Cancer Lessons in Grace

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The diagnosis of breast cancer came as a shock. It took several weeks before that wore off, and it occasionally returns at new bends in the road. But the cancer was caught very early and after surgery remained at Stage I. Even so, there’s radiation ahead (gratefully missing out on chemo) and hormone therapy for years after that.

I’ve learned several lessons so far, and no doubt there are more to come. The first is that it’s never “over,” but always both preventive and recovering. After successful surgery, I assumed I could go back to the old Normal in my expectations and lifestyle. I’ve hardly begun to make those changes, but I know that the old Normal is gone (air travel with a compression sleeve, for example, let alone diet and exercise).

A second learning was that it helps me immensely to learn all I can about the new reality. So I read the 200-page manual eagerly to find out about anatomy, diagnosis and treatment, and continue to ply my medical team with questions each time we meet. That’s a third lesson: help always is better when you have a team, and don’t have to rely on just one authority.Hands circle

But the biggest lesson for me in all of this so far is the gift of a community of caring persons who share a bit of practical advice and a whole lot of love and prayers. I’ve been amazed by how many survivors, friends, neighbors and pray-ers have come forward with cards, calls, emails and more – and even prayer and laying on of hands by my surgeon. This whole journey has been infused with God’s grace.

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub

Earth Trek by Joanne Moyer

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Written for “Live Free,” the 2015 issue of Giving: Growing Joyful Stewards in Your Congregation, by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center

Earth Trek: Celebrating and Sustaining God’s Creation, by Joanne Moyer (Herald Press, 2004), is a multifaceted gem that offers a variety of practices that care for the earth. Based on the seven days of creation in Genesis 1, the book explores different aspects of the natural world, how they are being threatened, and what people are doing to protect them. Emphasizing celebrationEarthtrek cover and creative actions rather than guilt and statistics, it offers actions that individuals, families and congregations can take to live sustainably with the resources and creatures God has entrusted to us.

This book uses diverse media, from poetry to brief summaries of our biological situation and consumer habits. Each of the seven days of creation includes four sections. “Earth Connection” examines how an aspect of creation is being threatened or restored. “Faith Connection” delves into what Christian tradition teaches about our relationship to the earth and other creatures, based on Scripture. “For Meditation” provides a quotation, Bible text or litany to reflect upon individually or together, and “For Action” gives an array of specific things children and adults can do in their homes and communities.

Because of its wide range of ideas and dimensions, Earth Trek can be a text for group study, a basis for personal meditation, or a resource for worship and action.

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub