"Our soul must perform two duties. The one is that we must reverently wonder and be surprised. The other is that we must gently let go and let be." Julian of Norwich

...Cancer teaches both!!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Foundations of Healing #2: 

"The note we end on is, and must be,
the note of inexhaustible possibility and hope."
Evelyn Underhill

On Sunday evening we broke bread with David and Sandra Beggs, our dear friends from the Queen Charlotte Islands.  We've known Sandra for years,  ever since our kids were in diapers and scrambling along the driftwood and sand beaches of Haida Gwai. 

In the midst of our meal of sockeye salmon Sandra presented me with the gift of a beautiful eagle feather. Sandra had beaded the stem of the feather into an intricate handle bearing two simple symbols, a cross, and the word HOPE.   She had been working on the beadwork since learning of my recurrence and filled each stitch with thoughts and prayers of hope and healing for me.   A veritable talisman of hope and healing energy from a place to which, and a people to whom, I am very deeply connected!!  WOW!!


It is unimaginable for me to walk this path without a sense of hope which is shorn up and supported by others on this journey.  Shortly after my original diagnosis with metastatic colon cancer in 2004 I was visited by my friend Brian, a 10 year survivor at that time, who became for me a living symbol of hope and possibility.  Bearers of hope like Brian work miracles in the lives of other cancer survivors who are searching for a path of life in the midst of the valley of shadows.

I don't experience hope as a "pie-in-the-sky" dreaming or wishful thinking.  Nor is it a "pollyanish" or shallow cheerfulness in the face of obvious diasaster.  To be meaningful for me hope must take into account the reality of my life situation with all of its challenges and very real threats.  To be sustaining for me hope must be deeper and provide strength especially when things are NOT going well.  In this respect I find that hope emerges sometimes only after a period of deep sorrow and lament, a time of revisiting and revising expectations, and an opportunity to discover new possibilities.  In these times I'm inspired by the wise words of Vaclav Havel, who said of hope...

"Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not because it stands for a chance to succeed."


For the "spiritually inclined" I invite you to explore the "practice of hope" at the excellent website "Spirituality and Practice" .  Here you will find inspiring quotes and practical suggestions on how to make HOPE a regular practice on your journey.  Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, founders of "Spirituality and Practice", describe the practice of HOPE as follows...

"Hope is a positive and potent spiritual practice with the power to pull us through difficult times. It is usually described with light metaphors — a ray, a beam, a glimmer of hope; the break in the clouds; the light at the end of the dark tunnel. It is often discovered in unexpected places."

"Hope can be learned with practice. Certain attitudes support it. One is patience, an ability to tolerate delays, a willingness to let events unfold in their own time. The other is courage, an attitude of confidence even when facing the unknown. A third is persistence, the determination to keep going no matter what happens. We have hope when we can say, all will be well, and we mean it."

All will be well...  Rob; in Vancouver

"There is no such thing as false hope. 
Only false despair!" 
Candace Pert

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