It seems that no sooner had I written a letter to you about the topic of surrender, I was required to activate it in my own life. You see, I have been tested by an experience and I believe the lesson was that of faith.
I had been feeling breathless and unwell for a few days and thought somehow I had managed to get a dose of pneumonia again. The GP ordered a chest x-ray and within a day I was in the Canberra Hospital Oncology wing getting treatment for fluid on my lungs. Five separate attempts by a doctor to tap the pleural effusion with a large needle resulted in nothing but my distress. A Cardiothoracic Surgeon was consulted and he came to see me on the ward. His calm manner allayed my anxiety and he assured me his approach would work. He gowned up at my bedside and with the swift ease of years of experience, inserted a drain through my ribcage and removed almost 1 ½ litres of fluid. The pain of my compressed lung expanding was outweighed by the relief I felt that he had got the job done.
My Oncologist dropped by on his rounds to let me know I would now be monitored closely again because the build-up of fluid was a sure sign that the cancer was once again, uncontrolled.
I endured a very uncomfortable 24 hours with the drain attached and after it was removed I was so exhausted I slept on and off all day. The next day when I felt better, I decided to go for a walk. I found myself alone in the hospital chapel. So many thoughts were racing through my mind. The one thought that was the loudest and most persistent was the question I had not asked. It had been five years since I was originally diagnosed and yet I had never once asked this question. The question that is probably the most poignant and desperate when we are faced with great challenge.
I asked, “WHY ME”?
Then I felt it coming over me like a tsunami. Before I knew it I was engulfed by anger. I was overcome with a fury so powerful I wanted to cry out. I sat in that chapel and cried while I tried to make sense out of my situation. Had I not been doing all the right things? I changed my diet, I meditate regularly, I look at vision boards on my bedroom wall filled with pictures of health and healing. I had been feeling fantastically well and my blood work had been reflecting positive results. I am living my joy with a beautiful family of which I feel intense gratitude for.
So what was it? What was I doing wrong?
An answer was not forthcoming.
I then began to feel resentment for others who I judged as living selfish lives. They were in perfectly good health and with plenty of energy to spread negativity, spite and even self-harm. Why do they get to be healthy and I don’t? I had been so committed with my actions yet why was I not seeing the glorious fruits of my labour?
I again awaited a response but the only sound in the chapel was that of my sniffily nose.
When the burn of my angry ego subsided, I felt weakened. The anger was only hurting me. It was cathartic to express it, but it did not serve me to hang onto it. Back in my bed on the ward I listened to a man in the next room having a violent reaction to his chemotherapy treatment and I felt awash with the fear that I would die when I all I wanted was to live. I was battle weary and couldn’t find even a spark that I could fan into my usual determination.
Then I remembered something. On the last night of the Gawler Foundation Retreat, a young man called Scott Stephens came to speak to us about his healing experience. He had been diagnosed with melanoma in his early twenties. He told us about the secondaries that showed up in his pelvis and chest and the many surgeries and treatments he endured. However the one comment he made that struck me, was when he was explaining his test results after he made sweeping changes to his life. Tests were showing he still had serious tumours even though he felt he was doing all the right things. He recalled it was at that time he knew he needed to keep doing what he was doing even though all he had to go on, was faith. His body did heal from cancer and eight years later he remains cancer free.
A common concept that has been coming up again and again in books I have been reading, is the idea that if we are to embrace being creators of our own experience, we must relinquish the idea that seeing is believing. Instead we must understand that believing is seeing. That is where faith comes in.
In A Course in Miracles it states; “Blessed are those who have faith who cannot see”.
Nelson Mandela died a few days ago. I pondered on his twenty seven year incarceration and realised that he must have had such strong faith to have endured that. I wonder how many nights he strayed from his deep convictions, only to return with the upmost faith that his destiny was unfurling as it should. He inspired me.
Seamus, let me tell you my conclusion about faith. Faith is desiring something, then matching your belief with your desire, then surrendering the outcome. There is a bigger picture that we are not privy to and it is in our interest to allow it to expand and show itself, while we recognise how we can contribute to it. The result may not always be exactly what you have imagined.
This is one of the great dichotomies of life.
I believe the greatest understanding I now have of faith, is that its power is not simply in wanting to realise our own desires and agendas. The true potential is in placing your faith in the divine plan which extends far beyond what our egos can dream up, or more importantly, control.
So through my new understanding of faith, I continue to desire wellness and believe in healing yet I know that in the hands of god, all will unfold in divine right order. I have given my anger and my fear to god and replaced them with complete trust. If I am caught in the potential of outcome I am not being present. Being in the moment is when we are in the presence of such incredible love that there is no need for future or past and faith itself, extends all known boundaries.
“Faith means we are open to the possibility of miracles, knowing that when we stand on the ground of love, within the space of holiness, then all material forces are automatically programmed to work on our behalf” Marianne Williamson – The Gift of Change