“Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.” -James 1.17 (The Message)
Lent came early for me this year, its deep, contemplative shadow absorbing some of the shine of Christmas, Epiphany and Transfiguration, not dimming those shining feasts, exactly, but certainly making them stand out in starker contrast so that I could examine more of their details, looking past the sheer brightness of the revealed Christ to see the very human Jesus who is often overshadowed by all that incandescent divinity, obscured under the heaviness of all that light. You have to look through some pretty dark lenses and filters if you’re going to see what’s happening on the surface of the sun.
What happened was this: on the 5th day of Christmas I learned that in a deep and dark precinct of my body, a place where, literally, the sun don’t shine, a gang of cells had become rebellious, mutating and multiplying according to their own whim instead of according to their ordained function. In other words, cancer. If it had its own way, this gang of cells would take over everything, never realizing that in doing so they would destroy themselves by contaminating and collapsing the little universe in which they live and move and have their being, namely me.
Ah, but even in the valley of the shadow there are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light; even the cross has to stand in the light to throw a shadow. I am blessed to live in a time when there is a potent tool to suppress the cellular rebellion inside me. And get this… that tool is—are you ready?—light! Light is quite literally saving my life. In the 2nd week of Epiphany I began my own little Lent. Every day for 40 days (really, 40 days!) I go to a clinic and lie down on a table under a linear accelerator which bombards me with a stream of photons. Photons. Particles of light! It works like this: the rebellious cells can’t stand the photons, the light. They wither and die. But the healthy cells adapt. “And this is the judgment,” says John 3:19, “that the light has come into the world but some love darkness because they are up to no good.”
Oh, the metaphors! Oh, the analogies! One could riff on all the cancerous business of contemporary culture or personal failings for all 40 days of Lent and still barely scratch the surface. But let’s not. Yes, there are devils and beasts in the dark hollows of our personal wildernesses, but there are also angels. See Mark 1:13 if you don’t believe me.
So here is Lent–forty days to shine a little light on what ails you. Forty days to shine some light into the darkness of your duffle and see if anything slithers away. Forty days to lay out your laundry in the sunshine and maybe dispose of some of those old attitudes and ideas that never did fit quite right on a child of God. Here is Lent—a good gift of a season full of shadows, but shadows that testify to the presence and power of the Light.
Note: My 40 sessions of radiation therapy will be complete on Tuesday, March 17, the Feast of St. Patrick.
5 thoughts on “The Light Side of Lent”
Something hidden in dark spaces has been brought to light, thanks be to God.
Colon or ? I’m asking because at my age 67 I’m frequently thinking about preventative health care and am more aware as my contemporaries deal with shit like this. Bless you, Steve!
Dave, it was prostate cancer. I had a radical prostatectomy a year ago. We hoped that would be the end of it, but my PSA numbers started going up again, indicating that the problem was not completely solved. Hence, the radiation therapy. Photon torpedoes!
Thanks Steve, my sister Suzanne has recently been told she’s in remission from leukemia. Your message comes (Divine Order?) at the exact appropriate time, in this season of rebirth and renewal.
Please keep in prayer Dottie Fuelleman, who was also battling cancer almost exactly a year ago. As Yvonne Seymour wrote back then, “the right words just weren’t coming out for Suzie and Don… but… in my bookcase a little while ago, I ran across my Grandmother’s little Bible, and as I opened it, a page was marked at Romans 8:26-28. It was so good to be reminded that The Spirit intercedes when I don’t have the words. I just stopped what I was doing, and laid my Don and your dear Sis before the Lord. He hears my groanings, and makes intercession for the saints according to His will., I know that Suzie and Don are in God’s hands! I must stop getting so stressed, and depressed over what I can’t change, but God can! We will just keep praying!!!!”
‘Nuff said. Yvonne’s words surely suffice. Enjoy each blessing of the day, I’ll continue to pray for your extended health and endurance; you certainly have the peace of the Lord. I’ll also pray for your loved ones & caring medical staff who so competently brought you through. God had His hand on the laser!
Your sister in Christ, Jacquie Segal
The three grand essentials of happiness are: Something to do, Something to love, and Something to hope for. -Thomas Chalmers
I love the metaphor. And I will pray for you to be healed. Blessings on your ministry.
Dear Steve, Thank you for your e-mail below. Glad that you’re better and glad that the Lord is with you. You’ve certainly walked an “interesting path”. At this end, we’re seeing first hand what you’ve gone through. Our long time friend, J. “Sandy” Warren, is currently in his post colon cancer surgery treatment. We been blessed to be able to provide Sandy and his distressed wife, Anne, assistance as needed. As of this writing, we are watching their pesky dog, Reba, so that he can get adequate sleep. Just dropped this note to wish you and yours a Happy Easter. Lee & Mary Howard Ventura, CA
Date: Fri, 13 Mar 2015 18:13:42 +0000 To: email@example.com