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Cancer and Compassion

Last night was the Catholic Work study group meeting which had been postponed two months, so i was really missing it and looking forward it -- the meditation and the discussion.  Five of us were there and one of us, J. is undergoing radiation treatment for colon cancer.  Colon Cancer and mestastasies therefrom are rife among my friends, relatives*, and idols,  It makes me think epidemic (a scary and very overused word),  One thing about a debilitating illness is that it allows us to feel sorry for ourselves, allows us place ourselves in the care of others, allows us to see compassion flowing toward us from the many who care--far more than we would have thought. Rohlheiser, the spiritual writer, has been recovering from cancer surgery and radiation therapy and describes it as spiritually the most rewarding part of his long life.  I guess we need extreme measures to remind ourselves that we all need compassion.  It is not wrong to love oneself and to be compassionate toward oneself.

Compassion toward oneself was the topic of list night's discussion as we work through 12 Steps to a More Compassionate Life.  It is the "third step" on our journey, and we all admitted that it is a difficult one.  "I don't like saying good things about myself", said H, one of the best of us..  Three of us had taken an online "self compassion" test and no one scored "above average."

Bur the admonition to love my neighbor as myself has no point if i do not love myself.  Karen Armstrong, at the beginning of the chapter tells the story of a Rabbi, the kindest, most gentle person she ever met.  He was a Jewish child in Europe during the Holocaust and hearing daily all the despicable things that were said about Jews.  He resolved, at age 7, to not fall into the trap of believing these things.  He sat down and made a list of all the good things about himself he could think of.  He attributed his survival in large part to that exercise.

*Colon cancer has been a particular scourge in our family.  Our older daughter's first husband died from at, as did Dianne's mother.
Her one living sister recovered from it and now her younger and only brother has two large colon tumors and one even larger liver tumor.  He will be going under the knife very soon and could use the prayers, good thoughts, and best wishes of all.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
showingup
Apr. 21st, 2012 07:22 am (UTC)
You're totally, totally right about love of the self and of others. It's always bothered me since adolescence - what if you don't fully love yourself? Many of us have no idea how.

I believe we're trained - subtly and not so subtly - in our culture to repel many forms of self-care and compassion, which results in us grabbing at all sorts of ephemeral pleasures that can actually damage us. We know there's a need that must be met, we just don't know what it is or how it can be met in healthy ways.

One of the challenges for me as a Quaker is applying the testimonies to myself: yes, if I believe in upholding the testimony to equality... it includes me! sabrinamari introduced me to Pema Chodron's work a few years ago, and the most challenging aspect? Applying what I recognised as profound wisdom to myself. Charity begins at home, learning to have compassion for ourselves.

My prayers to you and yours. I'll hold you in the Light.
bobby1933
Apr. 22nd, 2012 10:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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