A few weeks back I asked the kind staff at my hospital if I could put off having treatment for 10 days, so as to enjoy a brief holiday with my family. “Absolutely!” they said. “It’s so important to get some fun time with the family.” And they know. They spend time with hundreds of cancer patients.
We’ve just had a wonderful time away with all our family courtesy of some thoughtful and generous people. Good friends of ours won a holiday in an apartment on the Sunshine Coast, other friends helped out with our flights, still others offered cars, transport, surfboards and a place to stay on the way there and back. Wow! This kind of kindness puts a spring in the step and a sparkle in the eye. It’s lovely to be loved in such thoughtful, practical and generous ways.
It was great to escape the sub-zero mornings. Fiona and I swam each day in the warm waters of the ocean. The kids surfed. We walked through the national park and along the beaches. I found the best coffee available. I read newspapers, David Pocock’s biography, and a book on ‘social entrepreneurialism’. We watched the Wallabies scrape in against the Pumas on the Saturday and enjoyed our time with a very friendly local church on the Sunday.
On arriving back in Sydney, the kids headed home while Fiona and I stayed to attend a 2 day Refresh Conference at Milson’s Point, for husbands and wives involved in leading new churches. We had planned to be at this conference for some refreshment from the hard work of church-planting in Darwin, and at one stage I was going to be giving a couple of the talks. All that has changed, but it was still a great encouragement to spend time with other church-planting couples and find out more of what God is doing throughout Australia and New Zealand. It lived up to it’s name and we arrived home refreshed. I think the harbour views and the wonderful restaurant meals did their bit to help!
Fiona and I enjoyed taking ferries on the harbour, watching the city lights at night, and generally having some time to ourselves. We talked a little about the future and the possibilities for life and ministry. Though I sometimes found myself getting a bit uptight as we talked. It’s not easy not knowing what lies ahead (yes, I know we never do, but…) and some of the possibilities are hard to accept. We do need to make some decisions, but we probably need to ask God for a large dose of his grace and the strength to trust him – come what may – as we go about it. And we’d value your wisdom, thoughts and prayers as we plan.
Having some time away made it easier to forget about the cancer for a while. You can’t see it and the fun in the sun makes it seem so far away. I thank God for my temporary leave pass from Cancerland. I’m far more than someone who has cancer. ‘Cancer patient’ doesn’t define who I am, and I don’t need to be reminded of it 24/7. In the midst of all that’s serious, all that hurts, and all that produces worries and fears, escape is a good thing. And it’s not escape from reality. It’s more about prioritising other realities of life such as family, relationships, recreation, reflection.