Hard to believe it has been 4½ years since Jayne’s diagnosis of Glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. While it has changed each one of us in the family, we sometimes have a problem articulating how. Jayne has mentioned she would never wish this experience on anyone but that it has brought us several unexpected treasures. Before we speak about these, we do want to say when you go through something like this, you learn quickly that there are so many people around you that also have life changing events and never speak about them or complain. While we have a hard time understanding what empathy really means, we more deeply understand how brave and courageous people are and how rarely we think about their challenges.
We speak about these gifts as buried treasures because they are present, but it took a serious event for them to be unearthed. Our experience has shown us that we can better handle a difficult situation - no matter the outcome - by having faith in both God and ourselves. We also realize we don’t have all the answers. The church and teachings of Christ shine a light and path to grace and help us realize it’s often the struggle that is the real treasure, not the outcome. Glenn continues to help us each week by reminding us that these teachings, while difficult, can be transformative.
Another buried treasure that we experienced is the gift of intimacy. Innately, we understand how important personal connections are. We have always treasured our friendships, but now we treasure them even more. We don’t know if we would have gotten where we are without their support. Glenn has been such a fertile ground for many of our close friendships. Sitting around the kitchen table with friends listening to music and just talking is still our best medicine. We also see Glenn’s Gathering service as an extension of our kitchen table: intimate, wonderful music, and a very thoughtful message. We love Brent and how he cares for each person and is always interested in making meaningful connections. We also have a chance to experience Holy Communion with Alice. Attending this service helps us start and center our week.
As a family we were pretty lost when Jayne was diagnosed. The doctors said Jayne probably only had about a year to live. Our daughters, Katie and Anna, wanted to stay home and take a break from college. That was quickly resolved when Jayne said “I need to take you both off my worry list.” And I said, somewhat jokingly, “What are we going to do? Sit around the kitchen table and look at each other?” The girls were incredibly brave to continue their lives and we received the gift of seeing them truly engaged with their education. Our Glenn friends also helped the girls find their way through these uncharted waters. Early on, there were many nights with our friends where laughter would turn into tears and back to laughter again, reinforcing that they would always be there for us.
When Jesus spoke about how you should love your neighbor as yourself, we took it to mean not only how we love and care for others, but how we love and accept ourselves. The way we understand loving yourself is not about being selfish – it’s about getting out into life, challenging yourself, surprising yourself and, most importantly, learning how to forgive yourself when you screw up. We have learned that when you go through a tough event, it props the door open to talk about things you might have held back before. When Jayne and I learned how to better love and forgive ourselves, our relationship grew. I guess just more unearthing of those buried treasures…
Sometimes people mention to us that the diagnosis must have made us cherish each day. It has. But the true treasure we have received is a better understanding of what’s important in our lives. Connecting with people in all its forms is what we value the most. Because of Glenn and the treasures we experience here, we better understand that God’s love is far reaching and ever present. The financial gifts of all of us help Glenn thrive and be a vital source of connection with and for others. Stewardship is a time for us to give thanks and prayerfully consider how we can give back to a place that has given us so much.
Thank you, George & Jayne, for sharing the treasures of your heart with us this Stewardship season!