Your contributions to Guy's journal this year made sure that they never felt alone. Your tax-deductible donation in Guy's honor will make sure that Caringbridge continues to bring hope and healing to those who need it most.
I have been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and, on this site, I will provide updates as I have them. I will also treasure messages of encouragement and promises of prayer. I am trusting the words of Juliana of Norwich:
God did not say: You will not be troubled, you will not be belabored, you will not be disquieted; but he said: You will not be overcome. God wants us to pay attention to those words and always be strong in faithful trust, in well-being and in woe, for he loves us and delights in us, so he wishes us to love him and delight in him and trust greatly in him, and all will be well.. . . [The Lord says most comfortingly]: I may make all things well, and I can make all things well, and I shall make all things well, and I will make all things well; and you will see yourself that every kind of thing will be well.
Ongoing Treatment: When I last posted a journal update, I was in a kind of holding-pattern. I was waiting on a variety of test results and hoping that they would show a positive turn in, or at least a stabilizing of, my platelet count. Thankfully, it seems to have stabilized. As a result, after a week of hassles with the "specialty pharmacy," I started, yesterday, a daily dose (21 days on, 7 off) of an oral chemotherapy drug. It's a lower dose of Revlimid, a drug I took pre-transplant. Its most common side-effects are fatigue, nausea or other digestive system troubles, and itching/rash. When I took it before, I became intermittently familiar with all those side-effects. I will know soon how this lower dose will affect me. Yesterday, I also had my monthly Zometa infusion, which leaves me feeling, for a few days, like I have the flu; I am hoping that those achy and tired feelings will be less intense this time!
Early Thanksgiving: Our son, Eliot, has been in town this week, working with some of his colleagues who are based here, and we've had the joy of his staying with us. Last night, I cooked an early Thanksgiving Dinner while we could be together. Anita and I were so glad that Eliot (we missed his girlfriend, Kim), Amanda, and her boyfriend, Robert, could gather around the table. I took some time, while we were all in one place, to tell them how grateful I am for the ways they have loved and supported me during this difficult year of diagnosis and treatment. We also talked about the journey ahead, covering the kinds of details they need to know when my life ends, but, more crucially for now, about the dreams and hopes I have for the days and years ahead. I am so thankful for the conversation we had.
Transitions: The Sunday after Thanksgiving, Advent begins. In the midst of all the busyness we impose on ourselves, the longings and yearnings we experience and express in Advent-worship prepare us for the wonder and gift of Christmas. Whatever else is happening, when we gather for worship, I feel a transcendent and immediate sense of God's promise that, in Jesus, for whose birth we prepare, everything now wrong and broken about our lives and world will be made right and whole. Advent is, in many ways, a pilgrimage through fearful shadows to the loving light which is streaming into everything and everyone through Jesus.
I am keenly aware that I am spending my last Advent and Christmastide with my friends at First Baptist Church of Asheville. There's so much I will miss about this community of faith, especially about its ways of offering worship to God. As my last day as pastor (January 11, 2015) approaches, I have significant losses to grieve, as well as many rich and beautiful gifts to celebrate.
Since I returned to my responsibilities in early September, I have been, and am, working, to prepare me and the church for the days ahead. The church has been remarkably gracious during this time, as they have throughout this year. The church's leaders are making good plans for the interim period and beyond. It is such a vital and vibrant community of faith. Its ministries are strong and growing, and I have great confidence in its future.
The demanding pace of my work since I have been back (self-imposed, largely) and the resulting exhaustion I am experiencing confirm my decision to resign and to find different and more sustainable ways to answer God's calling. The shape of my future work is still emerging, but it will involve some configuration of teaching, speaking, consulting, and writing--especially writing, I hope.
I am so deeply, profoundly, and ineffably grateful for life and its manifold gifts. And I look forward to the future. In the familiar words of Dag Hammarskjold, my prayer is: "For all that has been--Thanks. For all that shall be--Yes."