Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Saturday, November 5, 2016

THE LAST CIW 11-5-16

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

In early June, I stopped writing CIW, and anything else, for about a month. This is the little notice I jobbed up for this column at that time:
This is my last CIW for a while. We are preparing to go to Chicago for our daughter’s second breast cancer experience. Eleven years ago it was lumpectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy. This time surgery will be more radical. In between she has had kidney cancer.

We’d appreciate your prayers on her behalf, and you may put Mary Beth McFarland on prayer lists if you wish.

I never got around to posting it. I just stopped. Everything. I was overwhelmed.

We did not, however, make the Chicago trip at that time. Not for that reason. The surgeon and oncologist got together and decided it would be best to do chemotherapy first and surgery after, so the surgery was postponed until after 6 rounds of chemo.

I was so totally immersed in worry about Mary Beth, and some other concerns, that I could not put my mind on anything else.

When the surgery was postponed, I tried to start writing again. Before, I had been writing a CIW every day, as a sort of personal discipline. But I was blank, empty. I had nothing to say. I explained that to, Rebecca, my YGLF [Young Gal Lutheran Friend. I am her OGMF, Old Guy Methodist Friend]. She commended me for not speaking when I had nothing to say.

That jarred me out of my lethargy. My YGLF is only 45. What does she know? I’ve never before ceased speaking just because I have nothing to say. Why should this time be any different?

So, any time when you have read this column, and you thought, “He didn’t say anything,” blame it on my YGLF.

But the rule of “just after” applied. It’s just after you have done something that you realize it’s irrelevant. For instance, it was just after I bought a new suitcase that was perfect for flying on airplanes that I stopped flying on airplanes. It was just after I bought an expensive pickleball paddle that I had to give up pickleball. The suitcase and paddle sit in the back of the closet, along with a bunch of other just-after stuff.

Don’t show this column to Mary Beth. I don’t want her to think she is the reason I have stopped writing. She’s the occasion, but not the reason. The reason is that it’s now “just after,” or maybe long after, the point at which I have nothing to say.

Sometimes the chemo side effects have been very bad, but Mary Beth has stayed positive and keeps looking forward. Please pray for her.

Thank you for listening to me all these years, even when I had nothing to say.


And remember to turn your clocks back Saturday night.


  1. Sadly, we just recently started reading your blog thank to a referral by your brother Jim. Your postings have been a blessing with much to say. We pray for Mary Beth and the McFarland family.