What Are You Made Of?

My dad is dying.  He had been fighting this latest round of skin cancer for a year.  He won several smaller battles.  This one-he will not win.  I live five hours from home and when my folks would come up for chemo they would travel to the city I live in for chemo.  The last time they were up was about 2 weeks ago.  He did not look great, but nothing prepared me for how he looks now.  My sister tried to warn me when she told me it was time to come down and say our goodbyes.  It was hard not to gasp and cry when I walked into his hosptial room.  He looked like a living skeleton with only the lightest layer of skin on bone.  His muscles were gone.  My dad had always been an athlete, like his father before him.  One eye has gone blind and he cannot close it.  He also has lost the ability to speak. All within the past few days.

It is times like this when one realizes what you are made of.  I have been a spiritual nomad for a large part of my life.  My first love and how I was raised was Christian, but as a teenager I was corrupted by an extreme fundamentalist type of Christianity (who publically excommunicated me for questioning) that pretty much ruined me to the whole thing.  Last year my niece became a Christian.  Through all this my folks who were nominally Christian, also became more devout, spiritual church-going Christians.  My sister too told me she also goes to church weekly now.  Driving down here, I knew facing the death of someone so close to me would reveal what my truest beliefs were...when you are raw and facing the suffering and immenent death of one you love, what is dross and nothing more than theological masturbation is burned away...what is left is the foundation. 

What sitting with my grieving mom and dying dad revealed was a deep down faith.  Something almost innate.  Reading my blog you may say that this is no surprise, but to me it is.  I have played with religion as a toy.  I have messed around with it, they way some people get into sports or video games.  It was great.  When bored I would put it down for a while, or look at a perspective more interesting.  I had a little anxiety driving down here...what if it revealed that when the curtains on my spirituality are pulled back, there is nothing there.  Or it is too much of a jumble to be of any use. 

This flicker of faith and hope, was that God saw this suffering and grieved with all of us.  With my father whose life is being cut short...with my mother who is losing the love of her life.  With my sister and I are are sad, angry, and grieving the loss of our dad.  God is with us. 

I cannot say I have had any visions or blinding revelations.  I have no answers why this is happening or why if God is there he does not fix it.  I won't even presume to have a clue.  I am pretty agnostic there.. and even about the afterlife.  I have had an experience when I was in a wreck where I saw my body from above that gives me hope of an afterlife, but again I don't know what if anything lies ahead.

What I did find is Jesus there.  That the promise in the Gospel of Thomas and the mainstream Gospels is true....that we are the sons and daughters of God.  This is not a refutation of any other religion or faith tradition.  This is merely my experience.. perhaps because that is the religion and cultureI was nominally raised in.  It may be.  But even so, it reveals what I am made of...where my foundation is.  What I truly believe in the foxhole.  It wasn't any other God or Goddess I called on or sought.  It wasn't any other religious practice that I clung to.  It was simply this. 

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