MOST RECENT POSTS

In this column you will find the most recent posts unless you have selected a specific poem, meditation or collection/index in which case that single item will appear here.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

CANCER 1: A Profound Shock, a Puzzle and a Prayer for Healing.

Sunrise in the mist across the fen
from our bedroom window, this morning
taken by Pam, my wife

The Shock
Eight days ago, our world was upended and we are still in shock. A protracted cough with accompanying breathlessness lead to a series of scans and a diagnosis that I had Lung Cancer – treatable but not curable, said the doctor. A further investigation (bronchoschopy with biopsies) revealed that the condition is not Lung Cancer but Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. So, still a cancer necessitating chemotherapy and probably other treatment, but, we are told by the medics, and in light of people telling us of other peoples’ experiences, that this is both treatable and curable. We are now waiting to hear when treatment will start, slightly less shocked than we were and with a profound sense of relief, that there is hope extending beyond just a few months - or even, just weeks.

As we have reflected on the uncertainties we face, we have to recognize that this personal awfulness is little compared to that faced by the brutalized people of Aleppo, those desperately risking crossing the Mediterranean and literally millions of oppressed people across the globe. With Addenbrookes hospital only half an hour away, we are, by comparison, mightily, mightily blessed – but we are, nevertheless, inevitably anxious about what the future might hold for us.

As well as having this remarkable medical facility close by, we have been greatly comforted by the assurance of prayers of many, many friends, both here in the UK and abroad and we give grateful thanks to them all for that very special support.

The Puzzle.
We know from other people, and are now experiencing it ourselves, just how hard it is amidst such uncertainty and upheaval, to pray for ourselves – it feels as if we are simply letting our many friends shoulder that burden. I know in the past we have suggested to others that is something God entirely understands, but it still has a puzzling sense of not easily being able to ‘play our part’ in this outpouring of other peoples’ compassion and love. Even though we have over many years been involved in the ministry of healing and walked alongside others who have been suffering in a variety of ways, this aspect still feels a puzzle. However, as I lay awake last night through a somewhat ‘dark watch’, an idea occurred.

Prayer for Healing.
I would find it difficult to ‘batter’ God with pleas for a restoration to health.

But I have, since encountering it through a talk by Bishop Simon Barrington-Ward, (former Bishop of Coventry) been fascinated by the many possibilities there seem to be of using ‘The Jesus Prayer’. I have written elsewhere on this blog (links below) of using the Prayer in its traditional way of being a preparation for prayer and of framing it as a confessional prayer. At a wholly different, and some might think, a trivial level, I have found it a great comfort at times I have not been able to sleep. It bathes that time in prayer and is immensely more helpful than counting animals jumping gates! (at least it is for me). As I moved into that cycle of petition last night, I realized the prayer could easily accommodate an extra phrase, which would readily reflect my present condition. So I tested it,

            Lord Jesus Christ,
            Son of God,
            To whom the sick cried out for help,
            Have mercy upon me, a sinner.

As with the whole of the original prayer, in praying it, we are joined with the complete nature of Christ, his deity and his love and it seems to me the extra line highlights his compassion and draws us into that particular aspect of our Saviour’s love as we repeat the prayer. The Jesus Prayer is, as observed by many, a way of moving closer towards St Paul’s otherwise difficult injunction (for many of us) to ‘pray at all times, without ceasing’ (1 Thessalonians 5.17). So, with each repetition, I remind myself of the healing power of the Saviour and by implication call on Him to help me – and all those others who need his succour. (In the form I have written this above, the new line, in italics, is historically correct: some may prefer to frame the line in the present tense.)

So, perhaps others may find this a way of bringing their awkward feelings about self-focused personal petitions into Christ’s presence and if this proves helpful, then I will be glad.

And, in the meantime, we would, of course, value YOUR prayers. Trevor.

Other entries about The Jesus Prayer on this blog: The Jesus Prayer as a framework for confession and The Jesus Prayer Illustrated


Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe

Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe
It is currently thought that the Universe has at least 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars! Hence the use of the word ‘scintilla’ for a mere ten thousand billion.

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)
Cross and Particle Accelerator. The words of 'A Prayer for Understanding' can be viewed by clicking on this image

Nebula (Embroidery)

Nebula (Embroidery)
Nebula (Embroidery) to accompany the poem 'Invitation' which can be found by clicking on the image.

Orange Galaxy

Orange Galaxy
'Orange Galaxy' posted to accompany 'Bounded and Boundless'. Go to the poem by clicking on the image.

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower
Cosmic Icon 7 - Summerflower Nebula (Acrylic)

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth
Cosmic Ikon 8: Moth Nebula(imagined-acrylic) The Gold field of deep space is intended to convey the Lordship of Christ over the whole of the Cosmos

Surprise garden rose (Photo)

Surprise garden rose (Photo)
This beautiful head of roses in our garden, which are giving off a delightful perfume in the morning sun, seems a fitting picture to link to the sonnet 'Evolution and Beauty'. Let the picture take you there. It is a surprise because it is growing high on a bush of otherwise pure yellow roses: amazing!

Cross and Vortex

Cross and Vortex
'Cross and Vortex' to accompany 'Stars and Planets Sing Your Glory'. Click on the image to go to the poem/hymn.

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)
Gaseous Cosmic Threads: Mixed media - acrylics and painted threads

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)
Warm Umbrian Hills: Click image to take you to the poem St Francis' Sky

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)
'Cosmic Labyrinth' - This icon is a symbol of the path through the near reaches of the Cosmos with its 'Havens' where current advances in science (2012/13) are celebrated. By clicking on the picture you will be taken to the latest version of the poem of the same name.

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)
Time, perhaps to consider a restorative break before the approach of Advent/ Christmas. Let this image take you to 'On Drawing Apart'.

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)
On the South shore of Iona is a bay which shows the industrial scarring of a beautiful place. Read of it by clicking on the picture

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)
Cross and simple prayer rope: make one like this to use as an aid to using ‘The Jesus Prayer'