Tuesday, November 10, 2015

November 10, 2015 - Virtue of Omission

Breast-cancer survivor Khevan Barnes describes, in an article published today in Cure magazine online, his unique outlook on being in remission:

“As I continue to find ways to live alongside my cancer, I am reminded of two things. Firstly, I am not in a battle with my disease. I am a conscientious objector. Cancer exists, and it may very well be present in my body, but I do not support it, either morally or spiritually. And secondly I am not in remission, I am in omission. No matter what the tests show, I categorically reject the notion of cancer diminishing my life experience.” (“An Existence Beyond Cancer,” November 10, 2015)

Hmmm... cancer survivors in omission. It’s got a ring to it. Barnes is calling on us survivors to strive to omit cancer from our lives — meaning an intentional decision on our part not to let it dominate our thinking.

The canon lawyers warn of sins of omission. Well, in this case, omission is a virtue.

The theologian Soren Kierkegaard is famous for saying,  “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” I think Barnes is echoing that thought. Yes, we survivors need to look back, and often, as we continue to make sense of our experience. For better or for worse, our cancer has made us who we are today. None of us asked for that formative struggle. It came to us unbidden. We would have run from it if we could.

Yet, cancer need not continue to call the shots in our lives. Yes, many of us are in remission — or, as Barnes prefers to say, in omission. Remembering what has gone before, and honoring that memory, we tell it to go back into its hole and allow us to live into God’s future.

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