Just to lighten things up a bit, here’s a children’s story/poem I’m working on….

Animal Wisdom by Jim Smith © 2013

I saw a crazy bird flying’ upside down.
I said, “Hey, aren’t you worried you might hit the ground?”

He said, “No, cuz I’m looking up at the sky
and I like to look where I like to fly.
And who says I’m the one that’s upside down?
I’m lookin’ On High, you’re starin’ at the ground.

Then down the road a little bit later
was a laughin’, splashin’ alligator.
He made so much noise all the fish swam away.
I said, “Hey, aren’t you worried you won’t eat today

He said, “Naw, I’ll have dinner a little bit later
Ain’t you never seen a happy alligator?”

And then I saw a big woolly lion
He was flappin’ his arms and tryin’ to fly.
I said, ‘Hey crazy lion you know you can’t fly?”

He said, “Maybe not, but I’m willing to try.
You know, man thinks he knows what can’t be done
so he never tries, and that’s half the fun.

An elephant was sittin’ on a log
Just starin’ at the stars and talkin’ about God.
I said “Hey, how do you know God is real?”

He said, “I’ve got a big heart and I know what I feel.”

He said, “The gator and the bird and the lion too
They all had something to say to you.
You’ll be full of joy if you look On High
But you’ll never know, if you never try.”

I’m discovering I have more readers than I thought. I’m told there might even be a man with leukemia reading this from Spain.

I don’t know that I’m really qualified to write this particular entry. My type of leukemia, CLL, is a slower moving form and since I am 61 I might live a full life. I am having a bone marrow extraction next year and may have other treatments, but my cancer is less threatening than most. Still I want to talk a bit about, well to be direct, death.

Death is something we are all facing, healthy and sick alike. Even though all 7 billion of us will face it, it’s still a very personal thing.

‘Stepping out’ is scary, Or, I should say it can be. And, of course, in war stricken and some Third World countries, many people die frightening and violent deaths. But I’m writing here about those of us lucky enough to die from more or less natural causes.

I’ve watched other people die (you don’t get to the age of 61 without having someone you love pass on) and I’ve noticed they shared one thing in common. Near the end each of them faced it calmly. I’m sure that during their lifetime they dealt with fear about how they were going to die, but when it happened it was a brave and even peaceful acceptance. One in particular, my father, and our family, even had surprisingly humorous moments the days before he passed.

Some of us believe in God. Some do not. And some just aren’t sure. There may actually be an afterlife. Some books even discuss evidential experiences of near-death patients. Whatever the truth is about what happens when we breathe our last, I think we don’t need to be afraid.

Fear plays a role the weeks before our demise, but from what I’ve seen, the days just before it happens come with a sort of peace,  a sort of phlegmatic acceptance. That’s not to say that the few seconds or minutes when it is actually happening can’t be hard, or even frightening. But those short moments have been shored up with one’s own preparation.

As you can see, I am stumbling here. You might even say I don’t know what I’m talking about. And you might be right. But this is what I’ve noticed in those I’ve lost. I can also say that those of us left behind suffer a much harder fate; that of grieving and learning to live our lives without the one who left us. I think I’ll talk about grieving in another entry. Grief is something I know more about than I’d care to.

Anyway, if you are living with Leuk right now and he is filling you with fear, that’s normal. You have every right to be scared. Just know that death, at the end, means your suffering and pain will be gone. I believe you can find a solace in knowing that. And who knows, there just may be something amazing on the other side.

Have you ever been on a roller coaster? As you are climbing towards the top, you are apprehensive of what is to come, and when you speed down the other side you really freak out. But when you near the bottom, and you know everything is going to be alright, your fear fades. I think that’s how death works. Even though you don’t know what’s on the other side of that hill, you will discover that the Engineer who designed the ride knew what He was doing.

Trust Him.

As some of you may know, my views on the existence of God are somewhat nebulous. I can get a bit negative, especially when I struggle with tragedy (see my “Kay” post).

But there is another side of my coin.

Back in 2009 I read a book called Miracles by Olen R. Brown. I later wrote a review of the book on Blogger News Network.

Unlike many modern scientists, Dr. Brown sees no conflict in faith and science. He believes that miracles are the glue that bind the two together. In fact, he finds miracles in every scientific discovery. He is uniquely qualified to speak on this subject; he is both a scientist and a Christian.

Dr. Brown is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and a retired professor at the University of Missouri. He has held joint professorships including in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology of the School of Medicine and in the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center of the Graduate School. He has authored more than 100 scientific publications and is a life science consultant.

I’ve recently looked at his book again. It is hard to argue against his insistence that if you don’t have faith in a Creator then you must have faith in chance. And through detailed descriptions of everything from the oxygen molecule to the integrated interplay of cells, he shows how pure chance is an impossibly no matter how much time you give it.

I still waffle, but this book definitely challenges one to reconsider his stand on the existence of God.

I highly recommend the read. You can find his book at Amazon.com.

Here’s a rough draft. It needs work but I thought I’d post it anyway:

He smiled as he waited
For his last breath
Frail, but calm
Not afraid of death

Tell me, Dad, why is it
You smile that way?
You seem so at peace
On this your last day

It’s not my last day, son
It never will be
He once made me a promise
And He’s kept it for me

A day will come
When you lie on this bed
So I’ll tell you that promise
And you’ll have nothing to dread

You’ve got a Carpenter
and He’s drawn up the plans
And built your mansion
With the nails from His hands

You’ve got a Carpenter
No need to cry anymore
Because your Carpenter
Hung your new name on the door

We’ve got a Carpenter

 

copyright 2012 Jim Smith

This is a subject I will probably be revisiting as my journey with Leuk progresses.

Learning you have leukemia quickly gets to the God questions. For some, this news pulls them closer to their faith, for others it pushes them away from it.

The question for me is not where is God?, its IS God?

I’ve been a christian all my life, but have struggled, always struggled, with religion vs science; creation vs evolution; the power of faith vs e=mc2. I found my own beliefs combining the two: that seeking God and seeking science are both the same search for Truth.

Now I’m not so sure, my philosophy is damaged. I wrestle with the basic question: does God exist? Is He real or only an invention to make sense out of a senseless world?

I haven’t completely lost my faith and I suppose as my health deteriorates I will pray a whole lot more than I do now. The old adage is probably true: there are no atheists in foxholes.

For now I would call myself an agnostic theist meaning I believe God might exist but if He does He is not as involved in our lives as we think He is.

I am not trying to dissuade my readers from their faith. I am only being honest about mine. If you have faith, cling to it,  I am trying to do that too because, after all, in the end all we have is faith and our family.

I believe in my family’s love, but as for God’s, well, Leuk has sent me back to the beginning. Back to where I was when first learning about God.  In this game of life, my seeking, if you could call it that, is back to square one.

I do still pray from time to time though it often feels like I’m praying to the air.  I guess that works as a metaphor: we breath in air and can’t live without it. Does that mean we breath in God and can’t live without Him? For now I’m not using the metaphor; sometimes it is, for me, just air.

I have family who read this post and I don’t want them to think I am “lost”. For me, right now, God is lost. I’m having trouble finding Him.  My hope is, however, that God has more faith in me than I do in Him.

A line from a song I wrote a few years back says:

So you say you don’t believe in God but one thing I know is true, He let his son hang on that tree ’cause God believes in you.

Maybe there’s more to Him than I think. Maybe He believes there’s more to me. I don’t go to church. I don’t read the bible. This is my time of reflection. My time of ponderation. A meditation on where I am in the universe, were God is, and how I fit in with both.

I guess when it comes down to it, I’m working on an exit plan… not how to exit, but what will happen WHEN I exit. Where will I go when I step through that door? This is, for now, my wondering. I know the ideology. I know the various dogmas. Those are now all washed away. I simply wonder if its possible to know Him.

We’ll see as I get closer to that fox hole.