Time to Get Treatment

What do we do when the decision is made, when the uncertainty is over, when our hopes and dreams or our greatest fears seem realized? Almost three years ago, when I was dealing with the unanticipated death of a dear friend who was also a co-worker, when changes in our music offerings, our congregation’s celebration of Christmas, had to be altered from “normal,” I got a phone message from my brother-in-law. He doesn’t call to chat, so I knew it was something important. He wanted me to know that the day before, as they were putting up the Christmas tree, my sister broke down, and admitted she was afraid she was dying. After a trip to the emergency room, a diagnosis of metastasized breast cancer was made. Her worst fears were realized.
My nephew flew home from Saudi Arabia, and his brother was already “on duty.” She expected to have the doctors say there was nothing they could do for her. Instead, they announced a course of treatment that had a good possibility of success in containing, not curing, the disease. And her family insisted that she move forward with radiation and chemotherapy. She was fortunate to have a treatment center within blocks of her home, with a support team for every aspect of life, and with access to trials and new treatments. She discovered that, disease or not, she was blessed. During this time, she’s had the opportunity to visit her family in Saudi Arabia, enjoy Christmas in Austria and Germany, spend much time at their beach condo, and make trips to Arizona to be with our brother when his wife died unexpectedly. Now we’re looking forward to my nephew’s marriage next summer. The treatments are not easy or pleasant, but each time she receives a check-up with no evidence of the disease, their value increases.
As a result of a global pandemic, a pandemic of violence that seems to be sweeping our country, and the anticipated change of leadership in our country, many of us may wish to refuse treatment and let the disease run its course. Like a dog severely wounded in an auto accident, we may want to bite the ones who would come to our rescue. Angry words have severed families and friends, and we don’t have the will or energy to forgive, let alone do the hard work of reconciliation. Even if we think we’ve “won,” we are afraid that those with whom we disagree will continue to attack with name-calling, threats or fear-mongering comments. Yet our hearts ache with the loss of loved ones, and our better selves long to reunite in many ways. We are fractured, broken, and pain and fear are our constant companions. But there are treatments available – treatments of compassion, hope, rebuilt trust and common causes.
It will be some time, depending upon our willingness to undergo treatment, before we know whether the diseases that are destroying our peace are being contained, and even longer before we know if they are being cured. There will be unpleasant side effects as we negotiate actions to address the issues that threaten our well-being, such as economic and educational inequalities, racism and other prejudices, climate safety and access to health care. Sometimes we will achieve our goals, but most of the time we will fall short, able to make only slight improvements in our condition. But if we continue the treatments, the possibilities of containment and, ultimately, cure, will increase. We may discover that we are not as divided as we seem to be, since we all want a world that provides peace and possibilities for us and for our children. Our goals are the same. Health, prosperity, contentment, peace can be ours. We will be blessed, if we are willing to do the work of reconciliation and progress to which we are called.
Stay safe and be blessed,
Pastor Barbara

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