The severity of multiple myeloma is mysteriously random from one patient to the next . Since being diagnosed ten years ago, there have been five or six difficult periods where the beast has interrupted my life. I have recovered from each and returned to a relatively normal schedule because;
A) The Oncology Team at the Dana Farber has been spot on with their treatment.
B) The strain of multiple myeloma attacking my body goes into hiding after chemo.
Easy enough explanation, but not satisfying in the end because the questions remain; why do I have an easier time than so many others? More pointedly, why an easier time than the young people in the same fight? It may be that there are no answers but I'm tired of hearing, 'we must trust in God's mysterious ways.'
My concept of God continues to evolve but I believe He or She is smart enough to teach us a lesson, any lesson, without need of a young cancer victim as the mechanism. I do not believe He causes anyone to become sick or to be the victim of misfortune. God, perhaps, started the clock and gifted us a conscience and free will, then stepped back to watch how we would treat one another. Despite my current stance, however, I find myself speaking with God and the tone recently has become contentious if not heated at times. Although I believe He doesn't cause sickness I'm certain that He has power enough to stop it. Maybe just for the younger folks?
Religions, in my opinion, are exclusive clubs. They are made so by the requirement of obedience to leaders who have as their objective, domination over all other religions. A personal relationship with one's God is anathema within the rigid confines of institutional religion. Outside those boundaries it is the source of freedom, relief, and appreciation for the gift of life, as it might be lived in shared exuberance with folks we love.
If I could codify God's boundaries for me it would contain these four elements;
Be good to others, always.
Be kind to yourself.
Look for the beauty in each moment of existence.
Avoid the dark evil of despair.
God has no tolerance for despair. When I have felt the insidious creep of depression, due to the roller coaster ride of multiple myeloma for example, God reaches out to me. As long as I take His hand and allow His strength to hold me above the surface, we're good.
If I ignore Him in this, his anger is palpable, a searing intensity that focuses my attention. It is up to me to reach, and He will pull me back from the hell of hopelessness. His miraculous gift is this life continued, with the beauty, love and pain it holds in store for me.
'It is not my doing,' he seems to say. 'You are the key variable in the most basic equation.'
'Would you give away all you possess to save one tiny life?', he asks me.
'Will you leave the comfort of your home and family to care for the million babies, starving to death in their mothers' arms in the desserts of the Sudan?'
'Are you intending to go to those places where bombs rain down, to hold frightened children when there is no place to be safe?'
'You alone can be a force to save tens, hundreds possibly thousands from the pain you blame me for... Will you help?'
I know the answers to His blunt, fundamental questioning of the depth of my convictions. I've calculated the cost of the truth. Thus I say nothing and remain silent as time ticks away and I settle into the corner of the darkness surrounding me.
Soon, He is silent as well.