Archive for the ‘Cancer’ Category

“Tragedy often has a way of visiting those who can bear it least”

September 11, 2010

Rob and Rocky Rallying Help for Paralyzed


Reflection: “For it is in giving that we receive”…………..(Francis of Assisi)   

I recently picked up a nice brand spanking new book called: Time: Haiti-Tragedy and Hope (Time Inc 2010) The opening lines of the book jacket struck hard like a hammer to my head: Check out these words-that shake like an earthquake? “Tragedy often has a way of visiting those who can bear it least”….. ….”And on January 12, 2010, that is exactly what happened to Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere….. Immediately, the scale of the tragedy was apparent, a nation already so often on its knees had been knocked to the ground…….” Reflection: So often we hear the empty unreassuringly shallow words of well-meaning bystanders,–“God only gives a person as much suffering as he or she can bear”………….   

I have often heard a response by those who receive this advice shake their heads and wonder, “Can God really somehow help me sustain the strength I need to go on?” How can I go on? I really don’t know the way. So many ask,–“Can God give more than shares of tragedy to the weak”? Yes, I believe so, God gives Community, a spirit of solidarity with brothers and sisters. And more, God inspires some an ability for the embracing of misery with compassionate forbearance. The Holy Spirit is connected and reaches out in humble dignity from the despair to connect upwards with the wonderful and beautiful gift of hope upon hope. Beyond platitudes, beyond token gifts of a few dollars, solidarity of standing beside the struggling and suffering is the great gift that counsels more than words and gestures can offer. My lament in discovering the inner workings of tragedy of football catastrophic injury and paralysis is that–the deeper tragedy of the boys and families–who wallow in a position of poverty, disconnect from community…yes…..can bear it least…….is being alone!   

In fact for 11 years I have seen the tears, the struggle, of those who could bear it least, too often alone, distanced by safe- seeking others. We who take the time to witness the plight of the tragedy—deeply appreciate and admire how some mightily and quietly bear up…..(in their lives of quiet desperation) We notice the effects of refreshment like a drink of water for the thirsty living in the desert are boosted by small little rays of sunshine because a very few ones on occasion demonstrate some amount of care…..   

Who will rally from the comfort of apathy and complacency and cynicism and skepticism and hear the calling to move paralysis along? Who is not intimidated by overwhelming obstacles and sure and certain pathways of more despair without relief?   

“Tragedy often has a way of visiting those who can bear it least”……….   

Tragedy is being alone in the midst of a community.


Can there be:Good Suffering? and Good Grief?

May 3, 2010
What a strange combination of words I selected for my title of this brief essay. I suspect that the words do not seem comfortable together. Creative and good are compatible, but they seem to be hardly at peace with suffering? Hmmm let’s explore this challenging thought for a moment.  The message of creative good suffering seems so filled with possibilities. The words together seem to portray my deep hope. Yes, I hope that somewhere deep within each of us we possess the transformative power, gumption and resilience to be so optimistic to think that we can create a mindset that can turn suffering into something good for ourselves and others. I suppose that this challenge comes from deep within my heart, spirit and soul and perhaps had its profound origin in 1988 when Cardinal Joseph Bernadin, the Archbishop of Chicago, laid hands on me and bestowed the gift of Deacon Holy Orders. He challenged me to be a herald of good news. For the best part of some twenty years I have truly enjoyed creating good news in the face of happy times which is easy, and I worked hard at creatively finding the elusive silver lining when the dark clouds of storms and life’s disasters loom heavy all about.
In worse case scenario situations I have seen death and near death and in the midst of the suffering I have also seen never failing seeds of light, hope and redemption. Yes, I truly believe the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete visits our hearts when invited, when we call out in agony, or pleading intercession. I admit, sometimes it takes creativity to see a pathway out of misery, dark valleys and the shadows of death and pain pressing down on our soul. Creativity can truly bring us out of despair. I find it so uplifting and true: “Suffering may be inevitable, but misery is optional.” Creativity is a gift, an antidote to the toxic poison of suffering in despair alone with no place to go.  Most recently I walked the creative suffering journey of hope with my younger brother who bravely struggled with five cancer locations that wracked his body with agony. The Holy Spirit embraced us until a week ago when this valiant warrior with amazing holy gumption proclaimed creative good suffering news: “I think I am dying, and it is OK.” Our creative good suffering strategy he and I crafted was to pray for a miracle, trust God, embrace each other until the pain goes away, and hope for the best. Creativity helped us develop the strategy: “Either way we win.” His heavenly Easter was a winning homecoming celebration because he creatively invented that reality. His funeral mass was good suffering because God helped us make it that way. His gumption and faith inspire me onward to keep creatively passing on hope.
Five boys who became my friends and teachers broke their necks playing high school football. Now young men, they continue to teach me profound insights and lessons about gumption, resilience and creative good suffering. One quadriplegic boy told me tearfully that once he had wanted to be a car mechanic when he grew up. With a smile and peace that is beyond all human understanding he told me; “Now, with God’s grace and the help of the Holy Spirit I am content and delighted to be a mechanic of the mind, heart, spirit and soul.” He laughed when he said, “Being this kind of mechanic is truly a sufficiently demanding, creative, full-time job.” He went on to share, “It takes real creativity and talent to restore the wreck of a totally paralyzed body that must breathe assisted by a mechanical ventilator. It is hard facing the suffering reality that I can do almost nothing for myself.”  Yes, I am confident in knowing that there is good news: creative good suffering is possible.  I have seen miracle transformations fueled by holy gumption faith, and resilience overpower ordinary suffering.
In her very creative and popular book: “Eat, Pray,Love,” author Elizabeth Gilbert takes the reader on a whirlwind, global journey as she attempts to transform an emergent life of painful suffering into something better. Her book gives another witness to the elusive and holy power of transforming pain into creative good suffering. Check out Gilbert’s lecture on the Internet: TED, She gives a powerful witness and a good solid lesson on how to be resilient when faced with suffering that threatens to break your heart and soul. Yes, I am convinced that holy gumption and bounce come from the Holy Spirit. We each have the opportunity to use it, or lose it. Deacons need it, everybody needs it. Pass on the good news, won’t you?

Cancer Brings Out Prayerfulness

February 18, 2010

So many persons of all ages know and love the song: “Jesus Loves Me This I know”. In our childhood, five brothers in our home each sang this song with our mother at sleep-prayer time. The prayer is powerfully affirming and reassuring.

Now as one of our brothers deals with cancer the song comes to mind for our prayer.

I took some liberty and added some new lyrics to the familiar tune as we pray for God’s blessings in the presence of the fight against cancer and the journey ahead. I am glad to share it with the readers of the Stauros BLOG:

Adaptation version by Deacon Don Grossnickle
Dedicated to my brother: Roger K. Grossnickle
 “Jesus loves me this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
we are weak but He is strong…..
Yes, Jesus loves me….
The Bible tells me so.”
…………………..New Updated Version
Jesus loves me this I know,
through the cancer, I must go.
Little ones to Him belong
We are weak, but he is strong
Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.
Jesus loves me this I know
Rough days of faith-testing, I must go
Days of struggle, I must be strong
Jesus, helps me all day, and all night, long
Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.
Jesus loves me this I know
Some day to heaven, I eventually seek to go
I get weak, but my Spirit growing strong
From Him, I came, and always belong.
Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.
Jesus loves me this I know
Seeing family love me, tells me so
I am weak and they keep me strong
We will always be one, all our live’s long
Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.
Jesus loves me this I know
No tears can change that, If I must go
Little ones to Him belong
I get ready, and keep being strong
Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.
Jesus loves me this I know
Every day is thanksgiving, loving life so
Little gifts I truly, truly love
Come in abundance, from above
Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.
Jesus loves me this I know
Filled with joy, I tell you so
Little ones to Him belong
Hope springs eternal and ends this song.

Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.