Holiness in our Midst: Session 60

Holiness in our Midst


When did I learn that I was not alone in a difficult situation? The moment I followed up on the breast pain I had been experiencing. In late June, I asked Dawn, a gentle nurse practitioner/midwife from my church, First Christian Church in Ames, if she could guide me into the medical system to check out my concerns. As I write this, nine weeks later, on Aug. 28, I realize that because of her and her equally kind midwife colleague Alice, I have literally not been alone throughout 15 invasive diagnostic tests, a breast cancer diagnosis, two outpatient surgeries, and, so far, four daunting chemotherapy treatments. Did I mention that I am deathly afraid of all needles? Between them, these two angels in human skin have sat beside me, including today’s chemo treatment. Alice was there with me knitting a lavender baby sweater; her presence softened the blow when I learned my 16-week chemo schedule was extended to 20 weeks. After the 5-1/2-hour lab regimen/treatment was over, she invited me out to her acreage for a late lunch, created from her garden vegetables. And she sent me home with the leftovers!

To ease the difficulty of this long journey, my church and pastoral community have offered spiritual comfort and perspective. My family has been kind and ready to respond to my needs. My friends have shared their prayers and well wishes through heartfelt cards, long letters, restaurant meals, household items, and sweet personalized gifts. One recent Saturday, my friend Tammy, a teacher from suburban Des Moines, cleaned my bedroom and washed my accumulated dishes (confession: there was mold involved!) This was after delivering meals and before taking me out to lunch. “I’m coming every two weeks to do whatever you need. I love to clean!” she says. Out in the community, everyone from the convenience store manager (“How are you today?”) wishes me well. I can’t hide the fact that my cute new hat covers a shaved head. Shopkeepers, bank tellers and even strangers tell me of loved ones who are on the same journey.

The degree to which my workplace has been supportive has astounded me. I report to a human resources specialist who is open about her recent bout with cancer. With fierce dedication, she is helping me understand the ins-and-outs of chemotherapy and navigate the business/insurance end of the experience. The workplace adapted my schedule so that I have missed only a handful of days. Over the weekend, I learned that two co-workers, Michelle and Missy, shaved their heads to stand in solidarity. I have cried more tears from being overwhelmed by the goodness of persons than I have from the life-altering shock of the diagnosis or the extreme indignities and midnight pain of the process.

There is much to face ahead, but I enter each day with a positive attitude. Thanks to advances in modern medicine and the sheer outpouring of love, I often find myself giving back, assuring others that neither are they alone in whatever they are facing.

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: Share about a time when you learned you were not alone in a difficult situation.


  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write about a time when you learned you were not alone in a situation. Where were you? What was happening? What difference did support and understanding make?


  1.   Read aloud Session LX.  
  2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt.

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our MidstSharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com.

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