Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

I had to go to the oral surgeon yesterday. I was dreading it. Angry about it, even. I knew that everyone there would be nice to me. I knew Dr. Devitt wouldn’t hurt me, even though I told my daughter on the phone that in case I died, I wanted her to know I love her. [It’s good to remind your children that they should be nice to you while they have the chance.] But I didn’t want to go, because it meant I had to be a certain place at a certain time.

I never want to go any place at any time when the place and time are on a schedule. I’ve always been that way to a certain extent, but in my winter years, I really rebel against schedule. You’d think it would be easy to keep a schedule now, when I have so little in it, but the less schedule there is, the more I resent it.

My last week of chemo was like that. I had gotten through 13 months of chemo, going to the cancer center every day for a week, three weeks off, back for another week of infusions, ad infinitum. After thirteen months, I was sick, in every possible way, of that schedule. I had to be bribed to go to that last week. Helen went to the chemo nurses ahead of time and gave them some gift to give me each of the five days of that last week when I came in.

I think the one I liked best was the candy-laden floor walker, a heart-shaped helium balloon with a big smile and crepe paper legs and arms and a bag of chocolates. I could take its hand and walk it around the chemo room so it could offer chocolates to the other folks getting treatments.

My idea of a perfect day is one in which nothing at all is scheduled. That doesn’t mean I won’t do stuff; I just don’t want to do it at a predetermined time and place.

Not every old person is the same, although we tend to lump all people in a certain age together. I knew an old man who liked to have something scheduled each day, like a haircut, to organize the day around. That’s okay to be like that, and I don’t like to be unorganized, but I do want to be non-organized.

When I was young, I enjoyed a hectic schedule, from high school on through about age 45. I loved having too much to do, because it gave me so much satisfaction when I got it done.

Once I pastored in a small town fifteen miles outside a large metro complex. We had no hospital in our town, but there were many in the cities, and my church members were scattered among them. Once I made calls in seven different hospitals in seven different cities. It took the whole day, but I felt very satisfied.

To live that sort of life, I needed a schedule and I had to stick to it. Now I need a different sort of schedule, one that gives me time to recover from one adventure before the next one comes.

Grudgingly, I kept my appointment. Dr. Devitt did a nice job. The best thing he did was give me an excuse. “Sorry, I can’t commit to anything right now. I’m still trying to recover from my trip to the oral surgeon. When will I be ready? Oh, maybe next year…”


I tweet as yooper1721.

My book, NOW THAT I HAVE CANCER I AM WHOLE: Reflections on Life and Healing for Cancer Patients and Those Who Love Them, is published in two editions by AndrewsMcMeel, in audio by HarperAudio, and in Czech and Japanese translations. It’s incredibly inexpensive at many sites on the web. Naturally I’d rather you bought it, but apparently you can download it for free on, It says “Download 2048.”

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