BUILDING FAITH: A Journey from Death to Life (fourth excerpt)

There are few things in this life that I hate, but my dislike of hospitals comes close. I’d been in the small, considered excellent hospital in D.C. before for two months forty years prior to this. As a writer, at that time I was plauged by a morbid fear of success. Each time I had even a story published, I wound up in a hospital suicidal. And I never agreed with the diagnosis. Needless to say, I didn’t sell much. The first time was in this hospital in the locked ward. I was on disability from a Federal government agency, and I couldn’t get it together. My therapist at the time worked diligently with me as I tried to write and failed. It wasn’t long before I began to dream of storms that were sweeping me off the bed. Frightening! I’d get up, look out and all was calm. Wracked with the fear of going crazy,I found dealing with life impossible.

The only good thing happening was that I read thirteen of Shakespeare’s plays several time and studied them intensely. This seemed the only lucid spot in my life, and I absorbed this as I couldn’t believe. An older woman friend who took an interest in me tried to help. She offered me a job as playground supervisor at a church school. I couldn’t take it and I shied away from friendship with her, while wanting to be friends. I got a couple of reasonable job offers, but couldn’t take them. The therapist kept assuring me that he didn’t think I would lose my mind. That I wasn’t my mother!

Fianlly, one day after trying all day to reach my therapist. I called his home and was less than civil with his wife who had always been very pleasant when I’d needed to call. Trembling, feeling deserted,I lay down and fell asleep feeling terrified, alone and anxious. When he did call. I could hear myself answering in a man’s voice. After a moment, he gently asked in a puzzled voice as he spoke my name. I came to myself then and knew who I was, but I could only answer in a very small child’s shaky voice, “Yes.” He immediately ordered me to go to the hospital that night. It was early and at that time there was little danger in the city.

These scenes were hard on my mind as I lay on the stretcher taking me for the operation. In the same hospital a therapist had ordered me to many moons ago. I knew then that I wasn’t going to make it. I didn’t really want to make it. No way could I stand the trips to the hospital for chemotherapy and radiation. No way could I bear with others waiting on me. I liked cooking for myself, taking care of myself. No, this was going to be the end of everything I knew. My partner had died nine years before, and I simply was not interested in anyone else. Only my best friend was left and she was dying of her cancer. I saw only bleakness and a blighted, future I didn’t want.

God, Jesus, or hope never crossed my mind. It was done. It hadn’t been such a bad life after all, and there had been some very high points. There was nothing in this world I enjoyed more than writing, so I was fortunate here.

As the anesthesia took effect, I began to go under to blessed darkness from which I never thought I’d reeturn. My life did not flash before me as I’ve often read people who were dying and came back from the edge. I was out of it and apparently, that waas fine with me.

I didn’t come fully awake until the next morning when the surgeon made his daily visits to his patients. I was groggy, disgruntled and did not truly want to fully wake up. He asked me to sit up as he smiled widely. “Well, I’ve got the best of news,” he said. “We got all the cancer. You will not need chemotherapy, radition, or medication!”

I was dizzy with joy. What I had dreaded was not going to happen! Sad to say, I didn’t thank God; my gratitude focused on the surgeon who had worked this miracle. When the surgeon left, the aide in the room looked at me sharply, coolly, “I wish you could see your face.” I think she said something about my looking stupid with happiness.” Well, she wasn’t going to stomp on my joy.

I spent most of the day in bad just reveling in this miracle. New hope I hadn’t felt in a long time now. But would it last?

I remained in the hospital for several days for several reasons, none too serious. I liked the fact that administrative people came by to talk with each patient. They checked on how well we enjoyed our treatment, food, how we felt that day, what our plans were when we were released. They asked about distant future plans. It had been 30 years since I’d been in any hospital, and I reflected that things certainly had changed.

My best visit was with the helpful and charing woman chaplain. We talked about the Holy Bible for quite a while. I learned things from her, and also learned that I knew more about the Holy Bible than I’d thought I did. When I told her I’d forgotten my Bible, she said she’d bring me a replacement I could keep. And she returned the next day with a copy of the new version of the King James Bible. I had only to glance through it to know I didn’t like it but it was better than no Bible. I have always loved the exquisite lyrical language of the King James version. I like the “shalts,” thou’s”, “thee’s”. It simply has to be one of the most amazing books ever written, and I feel ir richly deserves to be an all-time best seller.

Let me say, that I have read lately that in deep south Mississippi, and other soutern states, Holy Bibles were printed using only the Old Testament. So, i grew up with hell and damnation, fire and brimstone sermons. I was taught that God was better at punishing than He was at praising. And yes, that Ham was cursed by God to be a “hewer of wood and a drawer of water,” to serve his brothers for the rest of his days. This had always angered me, and perhaps it was why my paternal grandfather told me when I was 8 or 9 that he didn’t believe in God.

I heard him, waited for him to be struck dead and bowed my head when he wasn’t.

At the hospital, the chaplain had also brought a brochure called “Faith Builders,” by Norman Vincent Peale. I immediately read this small small several times, made notes and studied his suggestions about understanding and linking with God, with Jesus. I felt very, very happy, full of purpose. I began to remember my Praise Song for Jesus, and to softly sing it. I cried when I knew I had the basis for a book I had to do about this miracle.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I had been reading “A Return to Love,” by Marianne Williamson. It was God’s love she spoke of, and I wondered if I could return. On the Oprah and other shows as she talked about her immense bestseller, I thought she certainly looked serene and joyful.

Now I began to spend much of the day reading the new revised version of the King James Bible. I didn’t like the flat langauge, but the stories were still thrilling. The title for the book I planned to do took hold: Building Faith. Building my faith. I simply felt better, began to heal with little or no trouble.I felt mildly ecstatic with plans for writing this book. After seven days there, I felt unbelievably better, if not well. I had new plans to carry out. A new life to live! But it wasn’t going to happen that fastI found. There were roadblocks ahead, mostly within me. Faith, belief and trust in God is not easy, but the rewards more than make up for that. For you build a firm foundation upon which to live your life.

* * * * * * * * * *
Home after four weeks in rehab that helped me to building a healthier body, I got and began to read “A Course in Miracles,” by Helen Schucman and William thetford, published by the Foundation for Inner Peace. Although there were many parts I disagreed with, there were others that were immensely helpful and continue to be so. This will be the last or next to the last excerpt from Building Faith: A Journey from Death to Life. You see I added the subtitle later when I realized that I had long put death over life. Didn’t I come from the race cursed by God never to rise, always to serve his more honorable brothers? The powers the ruled the south I lived in as a child never intended that the New Testament supplant the old And it was here that I met one of the biggest challenges of my life.

Please be with me for this excerpt.

Looking forward to having you here in a short while – with love,

Francine

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