Posts Tagged ‘C.S. Lewis’

. . the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

As I look back on my year of breast cancer treatment I have many happy memories that have pushed the memory of the grief to the background.

Had you told me at the start of my journey that would happen, I would probably have thought you were just offering me empty words of hope.

Another quote from C.S. Lewis rings true:

Bridge players tell me there must be some money on the game ‘or else people won’t take it seriously’. Apparently it’s like that. Your bid – for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity – will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it.  And you will never discover how serious it was until the stakes are raised horribly high; until you find that you are playing not for counters or for sixpences but for every penny you have in the world. Nothing less will shake a man . . .  out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself.

A Grief Observed p 33

And so when the stakes have been horribly high for me I have discovered some deep truths that I could learn no other way.

I have been able to explore myself, my faith and my life. Being forced to move my thinking to the potential end of my life makes it much easier to see the difference between what is important and what is urgent.

And a big discovery is that little things matter a lot.

Yesterday on the radio I heard a discussion about what makes us happy. Most of the debate was about how much money we need to have, and then one man phoned in with a gem of a comment. He gave a 5-step framework for generating happiness. Some simple advice on how to engage with life.

  • Connect – Don’t isolate yourself. Reach out to other people and engage with them in what they are doing.
  • Be Active – Move your body as much as you can. Find some form of exercise that you enjoy and enjoy it.
  • Be aware – Move your focus of attention from yourself to what is happening in the lives of those around you and elsewhere. Take a bigger picture view of community.
  • Give – Your time, your attention, your money . . . to make a difference for others.
  • Keep Learning – Be curious, look at things differently, explore new things.

His list gives a good starting point for anyone facing a journey through grief.

We can learn a lot from the little sparrows and how much God values them.


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How can I not speak about grief?

This picture says a lot about my journey – especially the baseball cap. And as I look at it I can revisit the feelings that it expresses.

But sorrow, however, turns out not to be a state but a process

. . . and C.S. Lewis is right. Each day is different from the one before, and we can be thankful for that.

We are told there are five stages of grief or loss

Denial  Anger  Bargaining  Depression  Acceptance

The experience does not come with a map or directions. We live it day by day with all the confusion, exhaustion and blurred vision that comes with it.

Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape

Yesterday I read C.S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed. Far from being a morose experience I found it to be encouraging.

We all experience grief. Knowing it is a process, not a state, gives it movement. And movement means change is possible.

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45,700 – the number of women in UK who are diagnosed with breast cancer in UK every year.

30-50 – the percentage risk of my tumour recurring in my breast if I did not have radiotherapy.

75 – the percentage of women diagnosed with breast cancer in UK who now survive more than 10 years.

1600 – the number of people known to have been killed in the latest floods in Pakistan.

14 million – the number of people whose livelihood has been affected by the Pakistan floods.

1500 – the number of women who die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications every day; most occur in developing countries and most are avoidable.

3 million – the number of newborn babies who die every year.

36 – the age of Dr KarenWoo when she was shot in Afghanistan this month while working for a christian charity; two weeks before her wedding day.

327 – the number of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Being diagnosed with cancer launched me into a world of risk statistics. Numbers linked to life and death. My cancer and my chances of survival are expressed in numbers, yet none is specific to me nor guarantees anything.

I hear it all as gobbledygook.

“Numbers don’t win a battle.” — C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia)

What I do know is that I have 100% certainty of dying at some point.

In the 10 months since my diagnosis my ears have been opened to the numbers linked to other people’s suffering and death. I share their vulnerability and I have a heightened awareness of the privilege of life and health.

For that, and what I am free to enjoy today, I am truly thankful.

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A friend sent me this C.S. Lewis quote yesterday

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course, that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending day by day. What one calls one’s ‘real’ life is a phantom of one’s own imagination.”
Thank you 🙂

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