Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant?
Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.
Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches!
Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled!
This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.
~ Isaiah 50:10-11 ESV
Here I am: Eve. Standing at the foot of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil. Reaching up for the fruit, believing open eyes are better than faith, knowledge is better than trust, power is better than rest. The age-old struggle that began when the world was barely turning on it's axis; the temptation that speaks deep in the heart of every woman, everywhere. For me, it is cancer that draws me closer to the tree, my hand stretched forth to pick the fruit. Like a moth to a flame, I run from the unknown into the closely clinging bony grip of Death, knowledge, power.
Ask any cancer patient which stage they would prefer to be in: the angst of not knowing, in those early stages of discovery, with no statistics to lean on and no answers to quote in the long, dark hours of the questioning night? I am in that place, standing next to my cancer in the midnight blackness of the diagnostic wait; nothing hurts, nothing is broken, and without the magic scalpel of medical imaging - body scans and ultrasounds - my cancer would still be nebulous and stealthy. I long to be in a place of knowledge, the treatment stage when people rush to cure and cut and clean up the mess of mortality that grows like an ink stain on linen, cancer spreading ugly fingers of stain into the snow white body of youth and health.
That is what I - as patient with cancer - long for. Yet I - the oncology nurse - know this is a foolish quest. I have seen the patients dragged down and sodden on their beds, racked by the treatment, the curing, the cutting, the cleaning up. I have seen their eyes call out from dark sockets for relief. I have held them, and caressed them, and mourned for their many small losses - hair, and strength, and the ability to eat or drink or speak or laugh. Why would I, knowing this, ask to be transported to that stage? Have I so quickly forgotten what it means to leave this blissful state of not knowing to be brought out into the stark, sterile light of a surgical suite, answers in hand and self torn away piece by piece? Better to close my eyes and walk in darkness, holding the steadfast hand of my Savior, then to beg for knowledge, light the torches handed to me by human hands and walk forth into the bitter truths armed only with mortal knowledge and power.
I can taste the fruit of Eve
I'm aware of sickness, death and disease
The results of our choices are vast
Eve was the first but she wasn't the last
And if I were honest with myself
Had I been standing at that tree
My mouth and my hands would
be covered with fruit
Things I shouldn't know and
things I shouldn't see
Remind me of this with every decision
Generations will reap what I sow
I can pass on a curse or a blessing
To those I will never know
~ Generations, Sara Groves
A repost from the December, 2008 archives. I did a lot of spiritual processing following my radiation treatment that year, and it is reflected in the words of this post.