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Neha

Yay! I love this series on NPR. I'm so glad you posted to link to the newsletter. Thank you Barbara!

Don Winslow

I just sent in this essay:
Cancer and Religion

Cancer makes people consider life and death in a very serious and immediate way. I have known Survivors who found God, who reconnected with God, and who grew closer to their God. It is heartwarming to see them finding peace and solace that they so badly need.
I would guess that practically every Survivor, if not every one, thinks deeply about their mortality. I have thought about it, and I have come to a different conclusion, one that does not involve God.
I feel awkward talking to others about my beliefs. Once I say that I am not religious, well meaning friends feel compelled to save me, to pray for me. They seem to feel that I just haven’t looked for God, that I must be misguided to not accept him. In an attempt to explain I wrote a poem about my “Faith”.

Three Meditations

I found my inner peace in St. Margaret’s Church,
Repeating the names of Saints, ending with “Pray for us”.
My mind quiets and contemplates.

I found my inner self in my own silent room,
Breathing mindfully, calming all my senses.
My psyche quiets and examines.

I found my inner soul in Sinnepuxent Bay,
Focusing, feeling, finding clams with my mind-eyed toes.
My spirit quiets and reflects.

Inner peace, inner self, inner soul—all the same goal,
But each road, each path, is so different.
Does it matter which one I take?


In this poem I talk of the different ways I have used during my life to get in touch with the unknowable, the inscrutable.
My formal religious period lasted almost 40 years and included parochial schools, serving at Mass, and serving as Principal of a High School of Religion. Meditating in an empty church often led to “trancelike states”. Digging deeper and deeper into books on faith strangely led me away from a formal Church.
After Cancer I took up Yoga with its relaxation and meditative techniques. They offered me another way to look at life, and at death.
Following the Yoga path led me to Mindfulness, a way to concentrate on whatever you’re doing, to the exclusion of outside distractions.
At this time of my life I am satisfied with the progress I’ve made, and progress that I hope I’ll continue to make. Knowing that I’ll never have the answer is fine with me. The poem “My Search” is my attempt to explain my philosophy.


My Search

I know not what you are,
I know not if you are,
But I search, and the searching is Good.

If you are there, I may find you,
If you are not there, that’s no great loss,
Because I search, and the searching is Good.

Please do not think that I don’t appreciate prayers being said for me. I accept them as enveloping me in a compassionate, caring embrace, human to human, from people who care about me. That love, that compassion, is very powerful, and has great meaning to me.

Barbara

Neha - You're welcome!
Don - Thanks for posting your essay and the poem.

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