“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how we
ought to pray, the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too
deep for words.” - Romans 8:26-27
This was an especially hard-hit week. I defaulted into my fatigue and sleep once again. However,
the one thought that comes to me every day and every hour is gratitude. I am perhaps inordinately
thankful in what appears to be an odd reflection, considering my illness.
So here are some reasons for my gratitude, in random order and not in preference.
1. I am grateful for where my faith began, in a loving and attentive cloistered
community that has a mind-boggling diversity of members who are committed to
prayer for my recovery. Recently, when I was in the middle of a deep fatigue, I
shared by email with the sisters of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey (my first
community): “I cannot pray, read, or stay consistent with devotions. I feel so
helpless.” Sister Rebecca responded: “Beej, that’s why we are here as your
friends, to pray for you.” Remember that when you cannot pray as you ought, the
Holy Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for understanding.
2. And of course, for the myriad of friends, like you, many of whom have known me
and loved me for well over 50 years. Friendship matters.
3. An extraordinary group of doctors, nurses, technicians, and medical staff who
have been available, kind and hopeful. NYU cancer center is a state-of-the-art
institution and only two blocks from our home. A brief walk to our medical
appointments has been a bonus in my struggling and striving for recovery.
4. Food is very important and I have a special diet, so this means more time needed
from Sheila; however, we have received wonderful gift cards, food delivery, and
personally prepared foods that have been a huge blessing. After offering a
hospitality ministry and facility for many decades, I never realized what a blessing
it would become to have people return the hospitality through provisions of meals.
5. Chemo buddies: During my infusions, friends have come to sit with me for hours
bringing much laughter, prayer, and honest intimacy.
6. My daughter and son and soon to be 7 grandchildren are life-giving on Facetime
and phone calls and when visits allow.
7. I am eternally thankful for my wonderful wife Sheila. Clearly, I married past my
coverage. Her continued presence, friendship, prayer, and attentiveness to my
every need is nothing short of heroic. During my treatments I have some huge
limitations. Many things that I would normally do, I find myself unable to do my
part. Sheila has more than picked up the pieces. She keeps me on schedule with
treatments/doctor appointments, medication, feeding, caring, washing, and the list
goes on & on. I guess if I am honest, I never really understood personally the part
of the wedding vows that stated “in sickness or in health, till death do you part.” If
you are married, then commit to actively live out your love for one another. You
will indeed be blessed.
This week I met with a new doctor, and I raised the question of faith amidst my cancer
journey. The doctor was raised Hindu yet he was very open to my discussion about Jesus. I
shared with him that many years ago I had hosted a small luncheon for UN ambassadors (to
discuss the teachings of Jesus) and had the privilege of meeting Nelson Mandela there.
Mandela told me that for 17 years he had rejected a Bible faithfully offered by one prison
guard; but he finally took the Bible and started reading because he learned that Mahatma
Gandhi i said that Jesus’s teachings in the Beatitudes were the basis for his own non-
violent philosophy. Mandela acknowledged that his reading of Scripture, specifically the
Sermon on the Mount, was the basis of his capacity for forgiveness and leading his nation
These are just this week’s musings as I walk through the temporary effects of chemo, radiation,
and a stent exchange all in one week. I am encouraged by the obvious shrinkage of the mass in
my jaw and am praying for healing, and so deeply appreciate your prayers for me.
In His boundless love, B.J. Weber