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The Triduum and Transition
Waiting for Easter, warmer weather, and recovery
I have been less in touch due to my continued recovery from a lung cancer recurrence. My entire left lung was removed in January, and now I am undergoing 34 daily (M-F) radiation treatments, with a little over two weeks left. I should be back at St. David’s in June.
Which means it’s Maundy Thursday and I’m…home. The pandemic prepared me somewhat for this, as our St. David’s 2020 Holy Week was completely virtual, and we reduced offerings the following year as well. While I am out this year, St. David’s is partnering with a neighbor church for services, and tonight’s service will be held at the neighboring church, so I’m not sure whether it will be livestreamed. But I will observe Maundy Thursday regardless: my dear friend Gini is bringing us a meal as well as Eucharist. While much is made of foot-washing on Maundy Thursday, the institution of Eucharist at the Last Supper is the more significant holy point for me, and I’m deeply grateful that I will receive Eucharist today thanks to Gini. Tomorrow, on Good Friday, regardless of virtual communal worship opportunities, I will contemplate the cross. My radiation oncologist made a wooden cross for me, which BLOWS MY MIND. It has a small heart in the middle of it. I have it hanging where I can see it while I write:
That same radiation oncologist asked me when I met with him on Monday what my plans were for Easter. I didn’t have an answer for him. Easter has normally been a day when I come home from church and pass out after all of the Holy Week and Easter services. What will we do this year—maybe have brunch or a special meal? I was embarrassed not to have an answer for him, and three days later, I still don’t know.
Before Easter Sunday, Christians journey through the Triduum: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday. Jesus’ public ministry was over, but he had not yet resurrected. I reflected this morning how the Triduum is a transitional time, and a weather transition is happening right now in my corner of Virginia. I was hot in my house before leaving for today’s radiation (79 degrees) but I didn’t want to switch the heat off yet because tonight will dip back down into the forties. And should we take the extra blanket off the bed yet? If we do then I know that we will shiver the next night, but last night (with the blanket) was a little warm. Outside, visually at least, it’s gorgeous, with azaleas and dogwood trees in bloom, tulips unfurling, and a few blossoms linger on forsythia bushes and cherry trees; and even daffodils still bloom here and there. I walk or drive around my neighborhood with my mouth hanging open. It’s also peak pollen season, so everything is coated in green and when we open the windows to avoid AC, we get pollen inside.
I’m also in a transitional time in my recovery. The radiation treatments themselves are painless but cause fatigue and cumulative side effects, and when I have other medical appointments during the week, I feel overwhelmed driving between hospitals and offices. Recovery feels like a full-time job. Most of the time now I feel better from the surgery, but then rib pain will flare up or I realize how exhausted I become with one lung from simple tasks like ascending stairs. Two weeks after radiation I will start a targeted therapy drug, which has been approved since my last treatment time, and I’m nervous about anticipated side effects.
Soon the church will be celebrating Easter, a fifty-day season, while I will still be waiting: for radiation to end. For targeted therapy to start. To go back to work. For confidence to switch to AC and banish the blankets until fall. For now, I’m grateful to feel in step with the liturgical calendar and the secular season in a time of transition.
Wishing those who observe them a blessed Triduum and Easter.
What I’m Writing:
Since I’m out on disability, I don’t have any sermons to link to, but here’s a book review I wrote for the Christian Century that posted since I last sent out a newsletter:
What I’m Reading
I’m having trouble finishing books these transitional days, especially anything that’s not a murder mystery. Still, being stuck mostly at home (other than daily trips to the radiation oncology office and other medical appointments) means I have read quite a bit but since I have not produced a newsletter for a couple months, I’m not going to list them all. Below are links to a few favorites. If you are eager to know EVERYTHING I read, you can always check out my Goodreads page. (And if you are on Goodreads, please add my upcoming book to your Want To Read shelf!)
The Appeal a book by Janice Hallett (bookshop.org) A murder mystery with a bit of a different spin because it is set within a community theatre community.
The End of Your Life Book Club a book by Will Schwalbe (bookshop.org) I missed this one when it came out and LOVED it. A man and his mother, who is dying of cancer, read books together.
Stone Blind a book by Natalie Haynes (bookshop.org) In addition to murder mysteries, I seem to be addicted to retellings of Greek myths from female perspectives. Here we have Perseus and Medusa and other women in the myth.
All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir a book by Nicole Chung (bookshop.org) I want to read her other memoir that just came out two days so picked this one up from the library first. A wrenching story from the perspective of an adoptee.
Finally, I must end with a preorder link to UNEXPECTED ABUNDANCE: The Fruitful Lives of Women Without Children. If you are local, consider pre-ordering it from The Little Bookshop Home - The Little Bookshop (thelittlebookshopva.com) (you’ll have to call them, 804-464-1244) and picking it up IN PERSON at my book launch which will be held there on August 22! Stay tuned for details.