For those who experienced a cancer diagnosis, treatments, or to those who have walked with a loved one through cancer it is a process which takes, time, energy, and many prayers. To those who have lost a spouse, a parent, a relative or friend, reaching out to God for hope and healing is a necessity. Whatever the outcome, God’s hand is needed to navigate challenging waters to find the stamina to move ahead into the future without fear or sadness.
Our lives are a gift from God, and cancer patients and those close to them understand well that belief and acceptance in the will of God is needed. There is a poem called The Dash by Linda Ellis which speaks about the importance not just of when we are born and when we die, but “the dash” in between those dates found on our own gravestones. The dash represents how we live it, and it indicates the way God inspires each of us to bring love and joy to others in our world.
If you have never read the poem, be sure to read it. The idea of it is that while we are alive there are important aspects of our day to day lives which leave either a positive or negative mark on our own legacy. Although suffering through a touch diagnosis and the treatments of a disease such as cancer can be painful and difficult, the virtue of our lives comes through when we can accept both the bad and good of each day and each moment. A portion of the poem states:
"So, think about this long and hard, are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what is true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel."
This is just a piece of the poem, but in reading a small amount you can understand the point. Our lives are brief in earthly terms, but eternity is forever. The way we care for others and our world matters. The feelings we experience and that of others matter, too. A smile and kindness are a gift not only to others but to God. It truly makes a world of difference in empathizing with pain so many experiences.
Cultivating our souls through prayer, in getting to know God, his will, and in walking with the Lord day by day, we can begin to see more clearly what is most important to God. Since our lives are a gift from him, we can let go of any bitterness, or unfulfillment and hand ourselves and our destinies over him, since he is our maker, we can trust in what may happen in the future knowing that he will oversee our destination when we walk with him during our lives. Through it all, The Lord will guide us to become kinder and gentler with others and with ourselves.
Wisdom from The Dash
Wisdom learned from The Dash is our appreciation of the present moment. The light shining in the window and a beautiful sky behind the trees reminds one of what Heaven may look like. A memory from the past that brings a smile brings happiness. Faithful friends and relatives who do not leave our side during troubled times remind us that God has not forgotten us either. Children, pets, loved ones, kindness shown, and the peace found in silence bring meaningful joy. Most of all the love of Jesus, the gift of our faith, and the guidance of the teachings found through the Church point to our own eternal life. As we live and love each day, we find ourselves imitating the virtues of Jesus, and we profound love even during times of suffering.
Handing our lives over to him both during life and at the time of death is wisdom gained and passed on to others as a legacy of faith. Live your dash link never before no matter what the circumstances may be in dealing with cancer or its effects. Trust the Lord, pray, and ask him to show you how to live your dash for him both in this life and for all of time. No matter the outcome, that same peace we find in living our “dash” with the Lord continues not only for us but to all those we love. Heaven is a reality when we strive to live our dash through the two greatest commandments of loving God with all our hearts and of loving others in the most profound ways throughout life. Be blessed!