God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Although I've always believed in God, I never prayed much. Even while rockclimbing with a dirty rope, or careening down the slickrock on a Schwinn cruiser, or eloping with Mike to Las Vegas, I might've only subconsciously prayed. Consciously, I was involved in the moment. But those were fun adventures, and who doesn't love an adrenaline rush?
In real life, faced with crisis and tragedy, I was stoic. Perhaps if I'd prayed—and transferred the burden—which is what praying should do, I might've released some of the stress in my life and not be in the present predicament. I've read piles of books on how serious illness is as much a result of mental/emotional stresses as it is physical issues. Serious illness (not just cancer) strikes those who internalize their stress—those who "suck it up" and don't let go. So although I was previously healthy, and a non-smoker, I dropped the ball in the stress department. The same books state it's possible to heal (if not get cured), and this healing has brought about remission for people who were told they were incurable. Healing is about releasing—anxiety, anger, frustration—all that toxic stuff.
I have faith in that belief, although the books are scientific and show empirical evidence. But there's also a deeper faith, one that unfortunately sometimes only surfaces when bad things happen. The belief that someone is watching over us is oftentimes outgrown in the shuffle of our teenage years, when our hormones and worldly activities consume us. It pops up now and then, again when we're spared from some catastrophic accident or mistake. And for some of us, it's only during the holidays, weddings, funerals, and baptisms when we otherwise engage in rituals that may or may not include the whole prayer/faith/belief-in-God thing to remind us. I am, or was, one such person, which may be why I'm talking about this now.
Transcendence may be easier than you think, even if you're not the praying type. Try praying— about anything, for anything. Or try meditating, which I like to think is the organic form of praying. Pray to whatever deity you believe in (or maybe pray to believe). Release your burdens, reveal your most fervent hopes. Perhaps you'll feel closer to whomever/whatever that supreme being is, and renew your faith in all the things you'd like to have faith in…like love, peace, beauty…(not the President, but that's another topic). Or maybe, you'll just feel refreshed.
I haven't gone to church since I got sick, except to a memorial service, and the only excuse I have is that my blood counts are low and I can't be around crowds. I never went to church before that, and my husband is totally un-All-That-Stuff—his eyes glaze over at the hint of spiritual discussion. But I'm making up for lost prayer time, since before I discovered the twin forces of philosophy and Ayn Rand in high school. They're not incompatible of course, but the folly of youth and idealism was such that existentialism was way cooler than getting on that church bus in a homemade peach dress.
I digress. I'm still not religious, I don't think. But I hope and pray for guidance through this journey. I pray for grace, courage, and wisdom, and if it's ok with Him, I'd like to stick around a bit longer. If that's not His plan, that's ok too, but I've made my request. I try to pray through the grumpiness of this ordeal, and remember to say thanks for all the great and good things I've been bestowed. Praying isn't easy, because it often makes me cry. Which is another thing I never did, previously.
Finally, a friend wrote a blog during her trip to Paris about visiting Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart cathedral). She lit a couple of candles and prayed for me, and requested prayers for my intention in the guestbook. I'm generally unsentimental, but her (also humorous) account moved me to tears. Which is not to say that each and every prayer said for me is not as special, because each one is dear, and rests on my heart as a cleansing wish and a glimmer of hope. All who have sent me love, light, and blessings—I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I pray that each of you enjoys health, happiness, love, and most of all, faith and inner peace.
The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.—William Blake