Dear Plymouth Friends,
I’m writing to you at 5:30 on Tuesday morning, and I’ll soon be getting ready to drive down to the UC Health Cancer Center for my last radiation treatment! YAY! I’m just a little excited to be finished with this chapter of my cancer journey (though I’ll keep reading the “hormone-therapy chapter” through November). But there is a part of me that is also a little sad, because I’ll no longer be cared for by a phenomenal team of folks at the Cancer Center — people who remember my name each day, greet me with a smile, ask about my sons or my weekend or how the fishing was. (What a different world it would be if we all did that for others!)
For the last two months, I have spent a half hour, five days a week, with these lovely people whose primary goal was to irradiate the cancerous cells in my body, but whose more visible aim was to see me as a whole human being and to treat me lovingly. I hope that I and the members of Plymouth’s staff can do that for you! And I so appreciate the cards and prayers you all have sent!
There have been moments when the fatigue and hot flashes and thoughts of my own mortality were pretty overwhelming…and there is a lot going on at Plymouth, too! One of my learnings in this part of my cancer journey is that there is a way to cut through the miasma of fear and side effects. It’s not terribly complicated, and I know some of you are well-acquainted with it already.
One morning as I walked out of the Cancer Center after an acupuncture treatment (which really helps with fatigue!) I was overwhelmed with a feeling that I had been blessed: held up by an acupuncture therapist with a great sense of humor and a broad smile and a positive attitude that won’t quit; held up by a radiation therapist who shared Chris’s WWOOFing experience in Japan with her parents; held up by an oncology counselor who really understood me and all I’m going through.
So, here is the “secret sauce” that I will try to carry with me from this part of my cancer journey: Gratitude is the key to being joyful, even in the midst of a crisis. If we are able to stop and notice the love around us, the glory of God’s creation, the miracle of being alive, we are likely to experience not superficial happiness, but deep joy.
Some of us walk around focusing on what we don’t have or what isn’t perfect. (Eeyore is a wonderful character in “Winnie the Pooh,” but a really poor model for life!) Others of us see the blessings of our lives every day. It’s up to us how we perceive the world.
So, what is today going to bring for you? Blessings or woes? Even in the thick of it, you can turn to see the face of God in what you experience…and give thanks!
The Rev. Hal Chorpenning has been Plymouth's senior minister since 2002. Before that, he was associate conference minister with the Connecticut Conference of the UCC. A grant from the Lilly Endowment enabled him to study Celtic Christianity in the UK and Ireland. Prior to ordained ministry, Hal had a business in corporate communications. Read more about Hal.