Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sunday Guest Post Series: J. Scott Bronson's Playing Catch With Jesus



The big C, to some.

A terrible fright for most.

Not so, for me. Not any more anyway. And all because of a little game of catch.

The first time I got cancer turned out to be a nearly year long event that began in the Fall of 2000 with a discovery and ended at the beginning of September 2001 with something less than a resounding victory. Yes, we felt we’d won–or hoped it at least--but it took nearly dying to accomplish it. Chemo was not fun. Turned me into a great big Pillsbury doughboy. Minus the chef’s hat. The thing with chemo is that it’s a three way race to see if chemo can kill the cancer before the cancer - or chemo - can kill you. Apparently it was a close race in my case. Someone told me that I looked like death warmed over. A cliche, yes, but apt, I think.

Through it all, though, there was little fear or dread on my part. If it was my time to go, I felt ready for it. I was relatively calm. My wife and kids on the other hand...

The second time I got cancer...I was not ready to die. I had spent nearly a year recovering from the first ordeal and making plans for being a survivor. I was attached to those plans. I wanted to see them through. Cancer was a huge impediment at this point. And what’s more, for some reason this time, it was also quite terrifying.

I was in a situation at work that was untenable and there may have been some other things going on that made the situation at this particular time all so anxiety-ridden, but I can’t pinpoint what those things might have been; the fear of cancer is paramount in my mind as the one great enemy of my days then.

After many days of this anxiety, I finally made a heartfelt appeal on my knees. I told God that I was fairly certain of the process for making His son’s atonement work for me in the expurgation of my sins, but that I was at a total loss as to how the atonement worked in the deliverance from the pain and sorrow and grief of every day heartaches and other illnesses of the soul that come, not because of sin or rebellion, but because of ... well, just because.

“I am unaware of any process to put into play here, Father. How is it accomplished? I’ve been taught that the atonement covers this sort of thing. But how? What do I do? What do I do?”

After a bit of consideration, I said, “Here’s what I think–I hope–will work. I’m going to take all this worry–this pain–this anxiety, all this fear and terror, and roll it all up into a ball and I’m going to toss it up to you. Will that work? Is that all I need to do? Because I don’t think I can get through another day like this. I’m kinda goin’ crazy here and I need to get rid of this stuff. So, here–here it is, take it. I’m tossing it as high as I can. Please catch it. It’s yours now.”

And I did it. I rolled it all up and threw it into the air. At least I pictured myself doing that. Then I took a deep breath and went to work.

And then it was as if a gentle rain followed me everywhere I went that day. The mud and muck of fear and uncertainty dissolved under that warm and friendly downpour slowly but persistently as the day went on. And by the time I went to bed that night my heart and my mind were calm and peaceful. And have been–on the subject of cancer–ever since.

I’ve had cancer two more times since then. Without concern or worry. At all. This August it will have been seven years since the last recurrence. Each year the odds decrease that the cancer will return, but it doesn’t matter. I just don’t care any more.

Turns out, Jesus is pretty good at a game of catch. But it’s a short game. He doesn’t toss the ball back.

J. Scott Bronson is a (slightly past) middle-aged man from San Diego with one wife, five children a mortgage and a cat (to which he is allergic). He is an actor/playwright/director, a cancer survivor and a couch potato. He loves most kinds of music and Big Macs, pizza and Cap'n Crunch. And it shows.