Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sunday's homily

Some of you know we attend Cathedral of the Incarnation, a special church between Vanderbilt and downtown. Last Sunday, Deacon Mark Faulkner, a good friend of ours, talked about how perseverance through hardship leads to a richer life, using Dori's experience as one example.

I hope you find his words as inspiring as we do.

Nov. 18, 2007
Deacon Mark Faulkner
Cathedral of the Incarnation

Hardship ... will lead to your giving testimony. Even in death ... not a hair will be destroyed. PERSEVERANCE WILL SECURE YOUR LIFE.

1st of all, what is the LIFE that perseverance through hardship will lead to? As you might guess, it is NOT necessarily what many often value in this life. Just as the Temple was adorned with valuable stones and gilding and whitewash ... all that superficial stuff amounted to nothing when the temple was crumbled and destroyed. The LIFE that comes from persevering through hardship is a more substantive life ... a richer life ... a deeper life ... a grateful life that wells up in us.

St. John of the Cross in his book “Dark Night of the Soul” talks about the dawning of new and transcendent life that comes after living through a very dark time. He reminds us that our God promises that in spite of any current darkness, if we just try to persevere, there will ALWAYS be new and greater life following.

This has been a week of me witnessing dark nights almost everywhere I turned.

Melanie Nelson, a friend of mine for over 20 years, died on Wednesday after a 5-year battle with brain tumors ... and she battled with amazing, ever-buoyant hope. Melanie persevered.

Wes Caldwell, a business associate and friend I’ve worked with for over 10 years succumbed to cancer Thursday night ... but he did so with a peaceful, faithful candor about what was happening. Wes persevered.

And then our dear Bishop Niedergeses died Friday ... in spite of aging and a series of medical challenges, [he] remained to the end, a shining light of joyful gratitude and service. Bishop Niedergeses persevered.

Or a single mom with whom I was speaking, trying to deal with the anxieties of her kids, so badly effected by divorce, and the financial burdens that have ensued, and the frustrating lack of help for shouldering some of the most basic day to day tasks ... and yet, trudging forward with all the cheerfulness she can muster. She is persevering.

And our own Dori Brown from here at the Cathedral who has faced acute leukemia and mortality, and she is doing so with courage and determination, persevering one day at a time ... and savoring each moment of life. I’d like share just some brief notes Dori wrote as she continues to recover ...


I didn't realize feeling good felt so good!

Our news to report is that my cells are continuing to slowly increase. The really great news is that my platelets are now growing without the help of transfusions.

After having been in the hospital over 2 months this summer, I have now been here again for another month ... and this stay has the most difficult physically. Heavy medications that take their toll, high fever that saps you, chemo-induced mouth sores and a throat too sore to swallow or talk, exhaustion and pain and nausea and rashes ... but ...

I found a nice quote from the diary of Anne Frank...

“I don't think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that still remains.”

I wish that I could say I've been fully living according to that inspirational message these past 30 days, but it’s been so tough. I do know that I finally see a light at the end of the tunnel and that is so welcome. I can't wait to walk back into our house, to be able to tuck the kids in bed, to sit on chairs that are not vinyl! To just be home.

After a very dark period, I do sense a light at the end of the tunnel ... Thank you for your support and prayers.

Love to all of you,

Dori’s sense of light is correct ... that is what awaits us if we persevere, both in this world and in the next ... a brighter life after hardship or the BRIGHTEST life of heaven after death ... a brighter outlook, a brighter existence. A brighter appreciation ... if we persevere through the hardships.

I am very aware that some of you are facing challenges similar to a few of these I have referenced today ... death, disease, broken relationships, financial burdens ... . I know that all of us have our own challenges that are at varying levels of seriousness ... I know that each of these challenges are important and significant to us, even if small compared to those of others ... .

Father Fleming, our former pastor, would often say ... NEVER give up, NEVER lose hope! NEVER. GET UP! We stumble, we are tripped, we doubt, we fear, we fall ... just always get up ... always persevere ... always move forward ... doing so makes our lives a testimony to faith, a testimony to hope.

So, is how we are facing our own challenges “giving testimony”?

Is how we are handling our burdens indicating faith that, whether in life or in death, nothing is lost, not a single hair?

In our hardships, are we persevering, and thus, securing richer life?


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jim, for posting this message...I am going to pass this homily on to both my mom and sister in law and the rest of our family this Thanksgiving.

There is so much beauty, we have so many gifts and we are so blessed...sometimes we all just need a reminder of these truths.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Anonymous said...

Now the Cathedral community will be inspired, as we have, by Dori's brilliant example. She is wonderful!