Message from our Rector


From the Rector—A New Normal

         Now that the diagnosis and treatment plan I’ve shared with you for the melanoma tumor in my left eye have become settled, I’ve had some head space to start reflecting on my experiences.  It has been good to be back at church (for 3 days at this writing) and to have things to focus on other than cancer.  Yet at the same time, at least until I’ve completed the treatment, it will be hanging out near my thoughts if not forefront in them. 

When I inquired of Bill Hethcock about Otey in the rector search and discernment process, the first thing he said was, “This is a very caring community.”  Those words have been abundantly borne out in my experience here so far, and I am deeply grateful.

At Ash Wednesday services I found myself in little need of being reminded that I am dust and to dust I will return.  I’m now faced with a medical problem that, at the very least, is not completely fixable.  It is life-changing to adjust to having very little vision in one eye, indeed right now that eye makes my vision worse because of how the tumor is distorting its lens.  I am told my brain will make the necessary adjustments . . . but normal will be something different than what it was before. 

I had grown rather accustomed to the old normal over five decades, thank you very much, and I liked it pretty well.  Now what seemed routine and reliable has become uncertain, and even though I can read the experiences of other ocular melanoma patients online, there is much I will not understand until I have been through it personally. It will take time to reorient myself after the disorientation of my diagnosis, changes in eyesight, and treatment, not to mention the lifelong process of being monitored.  This is a watershed moment in my life, like marrying and becoming a parent, and things will never be the same as they were before. 

The women who approached Jesus’ tomb early the first Easter morning can tell us a thing or two about watershed moments!  They fully expected to anoint his hastily-interred body—to complete the process of his death with love and respect.  Yet the women’s old normal is sent packing by the empty tomb and angels proclaiming Jesus has risen.  It is the most joyful of news, yet profoundly disorienting.  It makes sense that life has a beginning and an end, and that what looks like the end to us actually is the end.  Things will never be the same now that we know that what seems to be the inevitable finality of death cannot put to an end our relationship with the loving God who is the source of life itself. 

A Prayer for Trust in God

O God, the source of all health: So fill my heart with faith in your love, that with calm expectancy I may make room for your power to possess me, and gracefully accept your healing; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. The Book of Common Prayer, p.461