“Between August 2016 and June 2017 I was treated for cancer with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. I entered that time as if it were a pilgrimage, guided by the adage that “the Camino gives you what you need, not what you want.” [The Camino hike in Spain is 360 miles and takes a month to complete, 14-16 miles a day! That’s off my bucket list.]
Some days were good, some not so good, but overall I did really well. So, though I had been told it was normal, I was surprised to feel mildly depressed after the final radiation treatment.
I thought a lot about Lazarus during the months before I felt restored to life. What was it like for him to be dead and suddenly find himself alive? How did it feel to emerge from the tomb, his burial bands thrown aside, his face uncovered? He was naked as a newborn, all his senses on heightened alert. He must have smelled the stench Martha worried about. His eyes once again gazed at his loving sisters and his beloved friend Jesus.
Most people have experiences that hint at what Lazarus knew. Like me, it might have been cancer or another serious physical illness. People trapped in a cycle of addiction, treatment, and relapse know it. Their families know it even more. And anyone who has experienced the mercy of the confessional knows the shock of freedom that forgiveness bestows.
Sometimes, in our panic and fear, we cry out like Mary did, ‘Lord, if you had been here . . .’ But Jesus is always with us, and he always acts ‘for the glory of God’ —sometimes when we want it, but always when we need it.”
[During these weird virus times, “Lord, if you had been here…” Not for our wants – I want this to end today! – but for our needs – patience, kindness; spiritual virtues to see us through.]
Rachelle Linner is a freelance writer, reviewer, and a spiritual director. She has a master of theological studies from Weston Jesuit School of Theology and a certificate in spiritual direction from the Franciscan Spiritual Direction Certification Program.