The Reason for Our Hope

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Are you a hopeful person?  Are you hope-filled?  If I called a meeting of the people who know you best and asked them to describe you, would I hear the word hope in their answer?

I’ve had reason to wonder this about myself over the past few months.

I recently heard the Good News/Bad News Fable and thought I would share it with you.  Perhaps you’ve heard it before.

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21 Weeks

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In 21 weeks, you can remodel a house.  You can travel around the world.  You can write the first draft of a novel.  You can grow a magnificent beard.  You can… do many, many things.

Or you can wait for a medical diagnosis. 

My wife of some nearly 32 years found out last December that there was a 90% chance she was carrying a cancerous growth within her.  Already a one time cancer survivor, this was hard news.  Routine testing a few days later suggested that it may have spread, metastasized.  If so, this would have assured a devastating stage four status, a long and difficult road ahead, much uncertainty.

Then we learned that due to the need for two surgeries and the necessary healing time in between, it would be 21 weeks before we would know.  An oncologist ascribed percentages and we were not uplifted.

The first diagnosis after the first surgery confirmed the initial prediction.  It was cancer.  Recovery took place.  Then the second surgery.  Then more waiting.  Waiting.

Today… as we sat in the surgeon’s office anticipating the door already tipped ajar to widen and mark his entrance…

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Cathedrals of Our Own

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“They say that these are not the best of times
But they’re the only times I’ve ever known
And I believe there is a time for meditation
In cathedrals of our own”

“Summer Highland Falls” – Billy Joel

I’ve had occasion to spend time in a hospital chapel over the past few months.  It’s a chapel I’ve known well and for many years, having frequented it maybe 20 years or so ago.  The chapel of that era was Christian- themed (Catholic more specifically), complete with a tabernacle, repository to the Sacred Eucharist.  A crucifix overlooked an altar, kneelers lined the periphery, a broad bound red book containing scripture rested upon a lectionary podium stand.  And a statuette of Mary overlooked the entire setting.  It was familiar and comforting.

The world has changed in those 20 years.  So too has the chapel.

Today, symbols of every major world religion adorn a redesigned spherical ceiling.  The tabernacle is gone, the only crucifix is a painted one on the ceiling, the kneelers have been pushed toward the rear, the red book is on a shelf.  There’s no Mary anywhere to be found.

This saddened me.  It was unfamiliar.  I was not comforted. Continue reading

The View From Inside

This photograph is from the inside of a church near my Alma Mater. I had driven by the outside of it hundreds of times, always wondering what lay inside. In the morning, the sunrise’s golden glow bathes the circular stain glass window, illuminating its many colors and details. On many occasions I wanted to stop my Impreza and walk inside to take a photograph, but I never did. It ended up taking a longtime and number of random experiences before I found myself inside that church.

Every time I see this image, I remember how badly I wanted to venture inside the church to find out what it looked like and how I waited so long to do so. Maybe next time, it won’t take me so long to enjoy the view from inside.

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Salton Sea and Other Nearby Oddities and Curiosities

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I saw the second half of a documentary once.  About a place in the desert of California called Salton Sea where rising salt levels causes fish to die and wash up onto the shore and which essentially leveled nearby communities and resorts, relegating them to ghost town status.

I made a mental note: if I’m ever out near there, I’ll stop by.

I was and did.

And then I drove to nearby Salvation Mountain (which was seen in “Into the Wild”, the Chris McCandless story – clip below) and Slab City, a strange spot which a wikipedia entry describes as such: “The site is both decommissioned and uncontrolled.  It has no official electricity, running water, sewers, toilets or trash pickup service. Many residents use generators or solar panels to generate electricity.  The closest body of civilization with proper law enforcement is approximately four miles southwest of Slab City in Niland where the residents often go to do basic shopping.  As a result, the site is described by its inhabitants and news outlets as a miniature de facto enclave of anarchy.”  So yeah, there’s that.

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