|A Thanksgiving Meditation||
A few months ago, my comfortable world of tenured professorship and contented grandfatherhood was profoundly shaken. I was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma, a particularly lethal form of cancer. Chemotherapy proved ineffective. Radiation and surgery would not be of any use. Promise of a vaccine to stop tumor growth remained tantalizingly out of reach.
As we gather for praise and thankful remembrance at this season of Thanksgiving, what can I bring? It is this: Death is inevitable, but love is not. Love is the gift of God. Thanks be to God.
Without the events of the past few month, I could not know of the depth of my wife's love for me. Evelyn and I have been married for 40 years, yet the tender unceasing care she lavishes upon me now far exceeds anything I could have imagined.
Without these events, I could not know the depth of my family's love for me: son and daughter, sister, in-laws. How helpful they have been running errands and keeping the house in repair; how comforting with quiet visits. It is reassuring to know that they will keep the promise that I cannot -- to be there for Evelyn.
Without these events, I would not have know as fully the care and concern of my friends and colleagues. Phone calls, cards, e-mails, and especially visits replete with firm handshakes, hearty hugs, and tears, with faculty and former students have assured me of an abundance of prayer being lifted on my behalf. My colleagues give ample evidence that the tasks to which I have been committed will be carried out when I am gone.
Without these events, I would not have so greatly appreciated the need to be a part of communities of memory, bound by a common story, that share care and concern and mediate the love of God. These communities include not only my faculty colleagues here, but also my church, whose pastoral staff and congregation have surrounded Evelyn and me with prayer and love.
Hear the words of our Savior: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another."
Death is inevitable, but love is not. Love is the gift of God. Thanks be to God.
James H. Crichton, November 19, 1999
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