February 29, 2008

Seeking the Face of the Lord

A profound ‘thank you’ to all for your support and prayers

I guess this week’s message could beititled “Reflections from chemo land.”

First of all, my intention is to find a way to say a profound “thank you” to all of you who have sent cards, notes and

e-mails of support and prayers. I certainly experience the strength of your prayers and good wishes.

Chemotherapy promises a positive prognosis. Judging from the effects of the first two treatments, getting there is going to be quite a ride. In my case, the chemo injection is about two hours in length, which provides time for extra prayer and reflection.

There are anonymous booths in the oncology center and truly caring nurses who administer the injections.

One elderly gentleman was expressing for anyone who would listen how lucky he was feeling to have such a good wife and sons and daughters. He repeated his thoughts several times, and that led me to reflect on the goodness of my mom and dad.

I remembered that in the back of my favorite Bible I have kept a note written to me by Mom as she was recovering from replacement of a broken hip. She wrote:

“Dear Mark, Aunt Mary says her accident happened for a reason. I’m sure mine did, too. I can’t tell you how much it made me realize what our family means to me.

“I’ll never forget [after causing everyone so much misery] I awoke and saw you kneeling by my bed!! (I had been in Arizona.) I couldn’t realize how much extra effort it took to get you there.

“Thank you for all the nights you slipped in to comfort me in my misery. We don’t really know how lucky we are for having such a fine family.

“May God bless you, and we thank you for all the prayers and help.”

I quote mom’s note because it says what I would like to say to all of you. Be assured of my truly grateful prayers.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad, too. He was the strong one, always in the background taking care of mom in her illnesses.

And what strikes me so strongly these days is that my dad never, never asked for a thing. I can’t remember a time that he wasn’t self-effacing—even when he was in his own final illness. His life was given to hard and steady work, and presence for his wife and sons and, also, members of our extended family.

It occurs to me how our dads who are like that make it so easy to take them for granted. I must admit that with hindsight I regret that I couldn’t spend more time with him in his last year or so, even though he wouldn’t have remembered. Of course, he is very much with me in my thoughts and prayers now.

I could never respond to all the cards, notes and e-mails that I have received. Here, I would like to pick and choose from hundreds of homemade cards and notes that I have received from children in our schools and parish religious education programs.

My favorite homemade card was cut out of red construction paper. It was a cleverly created monster-type figure yelling in bold letters, “Hail Mary!” That was it. It not only amused me; it was the right message in two words.

Another fellow by the name of Myles wrote next to a big yellow star: “A little light is a lot of hope.”

Alaina wrote: “Hope you get better in time for spring. I’ll send you a letter; you are almost like a king.”

Anthony wrote: “Hope you feel better soon because you are the greatest.”

Jennifer wrote: “God’s love illuminates everything no matter what.”

Danielle wrote: “My mom has cancer, too. I would like for you to pray for her, and I will be praying for you!”

Lucas wrote before the Super Bowl: “I hope that you get well soon. We have been praying for you.” Then, in caps, he wrote, “GO G-MEN a.k.a. the Giants.”

John wrote: “My mother also has a form of cancer. She has breast cancer. If anything, it has drawn her closer to God. Hopefully this experience will draw you even closer to God.”

He quoted Psalm 121:1-2: “I raise my eyes toward the mountains. From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”

Ethan wrote: “I am very concerned about you. … Our whole school is praying for you many times a day. That shows how much we pray for people. We all hope you get well really soon so that you can get back to teaching God’s word.”

With your prayers and God’s help, I will. †

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