Journeying continues further
July 8, 2005

This is part five in a six part series. You can find part one here. And part two here. And part three here. And part four here.
NEW: Read the whole series on one page (if you're so inclined).
This is a post about . . . well, it touches on religion. It's not about conversion - either mine or anyone else's. It's just a post about experiences and personal conclusions. (Sorry for the disclaimer, but I believe in truth in advertising.) Every year at my church, instead of a sermon one day, a couple of people stand up and talk about their faith journey and how they got to Southside (our church). After listening to the stories this year, I thought I would write a part of my own.

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For about 15 years, I had a ghost-faith. I believed in something completely undefined and I was content with that.

I met A in the spring of 1998. I had just ended the ten-year relationship (the one, in fact, that had begun just before Doug called my house and told my mother that I was gay). A mutual friend introduced A and I, positive that we were perfect for each other.

I'm a little slow in such matters, though, and it wasn't until the spring of 1999 that we started hanging out and by that fall, things were getting serious.

Actually, more than our relationship had gotten serious. I didn't know it yet, but I had developed cancer over the last two years. All I knew that fall was that I kept getting these stupid little fevers and couldn't seem to get enough sleep. My idiot doctor never even took a blood sample, just kept prescribing antibiotics. I had no health insurance despite teaching at the University of Notre Dame, I had my grandfather's decrepit Buick with well over 100,000 miles on it and it was rapidly falling apart. At the time I made well under $20,000 a year as an adjunct instructor at Notre Dame.

After feeling my temperature spike while teaching class - for the zillionth time it hit 104 - I gave up on my doctor and went to Medpoint.

Now, when the mostly retired Medpoint doctor insists on taking your blood and then calls your doctor and attempts to quietly yet forcefully chew him a new one (I was listening at the door), you know something's wrong. Two days later I was in the hospital getting five units of blood and two days after that, the first of twelve rounds of chemo for Hodgkin's disease (for those of you who remember the 70s movie, Brian's Song, about Brian Piccolo, that's what I had).

Despite what most folks seem to expect, I had no sudden conversion or revelation, not even during those first few days before we had any diagnosis or any real idea what was wrong, when I sat in the hospital bed after everyone had left and started trying to write my will, sure I would be dead in a matter of weeks.

There were no revelations then. I got better and left the hospital after that first round of chemo. And I went to church with A because it was obviously something important to her - and let me tell you that was the first time I ever stepped into a Protestant chruch for service and I was half afraid of a lightning strike from the blasphemy of just walking through the doors.

The church seemed nice enough. The minister, Martha, was interesting. But I was still leery of these Christians. They believed in some kind of super-person named God. They talked to God and thought they felt a comforting hand of God in their times of crisis.

And that was fine just as long as they left me out of it. I didn't feel God during my times of crisis - I felt my father. As far as I was concerned, if there was a God-being, that God had never bothered to check in with me and I had gotten tired of trying to check in with God a long, long time before.

The chemo went on, it never made me sick, I was feeling better and then the cancer was gone. I was still attending Southside with A because it was such an important part of her life . . . and Martha was intriguing. She wasn't at all like the annoying Monsignor Neu I'd listen to drone on and on about money and how shallow and ungrateful his whole congregation was.

Then the cancer came back and I was scheduled for a bone marrow transplant. Again, the threat that I might not live through this. Still no great revelation or conversion. Instead, I did things like go to chemo from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., go teach my two classes and then go back to the clinic to finish my chemo.
You might say that I'm a little stubborn.

After a fast and easy -- according to the doctors -- bone marrow transplant, I even drove home from Indianapolis upon release from the hospital. (A good three hour drive home.)

Still no miraculous conversion. Still a ghost-faith.

- - - -

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six
More on how all of this affected my faith journey in the next section.
I just want to take a quick moment to say again that these were my experiences -- I'm in no way condemning any religion or faith or generalizing about any of them. Just talking about my journeys.

Posted by Red Monkey at July 8, 2005 6:59 AM | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

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