by Robert Gekle
Soon after treatment of my cancer, a real challenge emerged—loss of physical control over my body. As a former lifeguard (20 years before the surf) and a collegiate tennis player, I was in pretty good shape at 65. However, as I aged, I became rounder (220 lbs. 5’11”) and developed hypertension. However, now this tremendous athlete (no humility there) began to lose control over his body. Lack of balance, GI problems, loss of feeling in the distal extremities and overwhelming fatigue reard this ugly heads. Sometimes, I feel very frustrated, even angry at myself (3 minutes to button my shirt). Then I realized so many other people suffer worse than I—Parkinson’s disease, those who suffer a severe pain that needed a morphine pump, and paralysis at an early age.
So in comparison, the difficulties I encountered are a walk in the park. I even lost 40 lbs. Moreover, my hypertension was gone. I was no longer ungrateful and never did I become angry at God.
I focused on the endeavors I could perform. Daily mass was essential. Without it, I was in withdrawal, a sense of loss, or a feeling that something was not right. In addition, swimming in the ocean for 30 minutes restored my balance and aided me in overcoming pain. I felt like I was 23 again.
Focusing on the gifts, I received during my life triggered an attitude of gratitude. I slowly began to realize that these debilitating and glorious events were God’s way of preparing to serve “these the least of my little ones.” Making people laugh, cooking meals for the hungry or just listening to other’s fears, confusion and anger are ways of participating in the life of Christ. The genuine compassion, never judgment, was born from these experiences. As a wounded and flawed man, I can help others achieve serenity or show others a different way to address their happiness. What a blessing!
We are all happiest when we give to others from our largess-spiritual, intellectual even financial. The joy on the face of our children and adult friends is one of the greatest gifts we can receive.
In the synagogue, Jesus reads from Isaiah a scripture passage that says, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me to bring good news to the poor…release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind. As disciples, we are meant to follow Him.
I continue to pray He works through me because it is only (through Christ) that we can experience a sense of peace beyond understanding. We rejoice in our suffering. Suffering produces perseverance—perseverance produces character and character produces hope. I can say thanks to my cancer. I’m there –ah the sheer of grace!