posted in: Cancer, Encouragement | 12

I have had two untouchably perfect moments in my life. One was running down the aisle with my new husband on our wedding day. And the other was when they put baby Zach in my arms, and our eyes met, and it was like a conspiracy of perfect adoration.

Two months ago, out of the blue, I was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, and so I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what perfect moments God brings through suffering. And the story is Advent, and its promise of Peace. Hope. Love. This is my season. This is our season.

Hail,_Mary_by_Luc-Olivier_Merson,_ca._1885,_High_Museum_of_ArtThere’s a gorgeous painting in the High Museum in Atlanta of Mary, the mother of God, standing with what appears to be exactly the same outfit I dressed Zach in for his two-year old Tractorpalooza party recently. Travellers stumble across something surprising on a lonely road. Instead of seeing a statue or a painting or some other shine of the Virgin, as was the custom, they encounter the living, breathing Mary and Jesus. There is a reason why over Christian history that those who are lonely, afraid, lost, or sick turn to an image of Mary the Mother with her boy at her side. When we stumble down a road filled with suffering, we want to encounter a God who understands just how we feel. I am walking a road in which the unthinkable thought is that I would have to be one day separated from my two perfect moments, my husband and my son. So I turn to the Advent story as my story and the story of the church. It is our introduction to a weary traveling family, a pregnant teenager who gives birth in a world of great danger—danger that will be confirmed when King Herod begins a campaign to murder infants in an attempt to root him out.

This is our initiation into one of the perfect moments of the faith, when peace, hope, and love radiate out of a world that otherwise causes us to be afraid. This is the great secret of the Christian faith, that in the grand inversion of God becoming a baby, we see that our vulnerability is our doorway into knowing the love and great mercy of God. That we will find ourselves walking down a lonely road, turn a corner, and there He is. He is Emmanuel. God with us.

Written for Duke Memorial Church, the first Sunday of Advent.

12 Responses

  1. Wonderfully written Kate.
    It reminds me of some verses of that famous Christmas Carol, O Come O Come Emmanuel….

    O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
    Our spirits by Thine advent here
    Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
    And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
    Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
    Shall come to thee, O Israel.

    O come, Thou Key of David, come,
    And open wide our heavenly home;
    Make safe the way that leads on high,
    And close the path to misery.
    Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
    Shall come to thee, O Israel.

  2. Katy Attanasi

    Thank you!

  3. I loved when you read this to me last week, but am thankful to read it again to myself. Thank you Kate for this!

  4. Charlotte Lazaruk

    Kate, I loved reading your words for Duke Memorial Church. They spoke to me, to CoTW and to all believers. The great secret of the Christian faith is the grand inversion of God becoming a baby for our sakes. We are vulnerable and need the love and great mercy of God poured out in the love and sacrifice of Jesus. We cannot make it on our own. He has promised to abide with us always. He is Emmanuel. He is God with us. He is with you, with Tobam, and with Zach. My privilege is to pray for you and for all those who love you

  5. Kate, we’ve not met in real life yet… still I wanted to comment on the beauty of this post and thank you for its profound spiritual grace.

    Praying for you, too..
    Erica (friends with Leah Payne, and with Katy Attanasi, and with Dan Ramirez, for reference points )

  6. Jennifer Findlay

    just beautiful….

  7. Touched by your words Kate, knowing from whom these words are and which suffering is underneath it. That’s why they are so very true….

  8. Jason Darden

    Kate, I’m sharing this with our youth council tonight at our meeting. Beautifully written, faithfully lived.

  9. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful interpretation of this painting, Advent, and your faith. Love you, Kate.

  10. This is so beautiful, Kate.

  11. Ernest Staggs

    You help me understand. Thank you for the lovely and important gift.

  12. Chris Brakley

    My wife was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer the doctors said he got all the cancer out after removing about twelve inches of her colon. Thinking she was cancer free we went home very happy.It took the doctors months to figure out I didn’t have gastritis, but stage 4 small colon cancer. she started having terrible pain in her abdomen, and vomiting but no blood in either. I had a general surgeon do surgery and it was supposed to be laparoscopic but ended up being exploratory. They had to remove a foot and a half of her small colon (doing a resection), her appendix, one ovary, and part of the large colon. was on Folfox for 3 months and then Folfirinox for 4 months to try and get ready for surgery and the HIPEC (hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy) procedure. I was just told I am not a good candidate for this surgery because the surgeon did not see enough response with the chemotherapy. Now my oncologist is putting me on Erbitux and a cancer cell blocker. I am nervous because of possible side effects,after a member of my church introduced me to a doctor,which i contacted as fast a possible via email, he gave her his medication which she took as prescribed by him, last two month she was diagnosed colon cancer free, its will be nice if you also contact him via his mail [email protected],am very sure he can be of help too. I am really happy sharing my story with you

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