Friday, October 13, 2006

JK: Finding the Cure for Cancer

A friend of ours is losing her twelve year battle with cancer and soon her life will end. “I know I’m not doing anything to cure cancer,” I told a friend of mine and I went on to explain how others were making bigger marks in this world I thought, than mine. Their efforts might one day bring about relief from terrible suffering while I write stories. Little stories that some people won’t read because “they aren’t even true.”

Now Frederick Buechner, theologian and novelist, has given me a new way to look at truth inside story. He noted in his book Secrets in the Dark, A Life in Sermons, that fiction, from the word meaning to imagine, feign, or shape, is not true the way a photograph is true. But it can be true the way a portrait is, where one sees more than just the rendering of what is. With a great portrait we see something of the artist as well as a depth of the subject that we might otherwise miss. His words give me a little more room to appreciate rather than discount my efforts as a novelist over someone writing non-fiction, for example. But I still hung onto my wish that I did something truly important in the world instead of just “writing stories.”

My friend didn’t join in my whine. “We are all writing the human story,” she said, “when we do what we feel called to do. You do what you can to ease suffering through your stories and the scientist does what she can to find that elusive cure. Together the human story gets written, revised, expanded.”

Some of us have stories not yet published; yet we are authentic when we listen to that inner voice and write even if we don’t that day see the results that we think should. Perhaps because I spent this past hour writing I will be more compassionate toward my husband as he suffers with a bad back. Perhaps as you took time to finish that chapter or sent out that proposal you’ll be more aware of the dullness in a neighbor’s eyes and thus take time to ask what you can do to be of help. We are all writing the human story when we pay attention to our own.

My friend went on to remind me that it takes imagination to bring about innovation and imagination is from the right brain that works quite well with those predominately left brain scientists. Together, each of us doing what we think we’re supposed to be doing, together perhaps we’ll find that cancer cure.

Jane Kirkpatrick,
Award-winning author of 12 novels and two non-fiction books. A Clearing in the Wild, Book One of the Change and Cherish Series (WaterBrook Press/Random House) is available now!


At 8:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate cancer.

Thank you for a beautiful post.

At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watching the end of life on earth is painful at all levels. God did not intend it to be this way in the beginning . . .
I'm moved by your concern about writing "little stories" because when you have to view death, i.e. a parent losing a child, a person so full of life having to bid it goodbye, a soldier in Iraq giving his life for the freedom of others . . . perspective comes hard.
But, thank the Lord, we are responsible for our work--whatever it is. And He will use our work as He sees fit to minister in ways we will probably never realize until we meet His glorious smile face to face.
Your work is important, Jane, and nobody else can do it the way God has for you to do. That is the blessing and reward that follows obedience to Him.

At 7:48 PM, Blogger Marcia Lee Laycock said...

This reminds me of something I heard Phil Yancey say once - he'd been struggling to write all day and his wife, who I think is a social worker, or aid worker of some kind came home and started telling him about what she had done that day. Then she asked him how his day had gone and he said, "Well, um, I found a new adverb!"
Yet we all know the power of Yancey's work and the effect it has had in the world.
I think we will some day be shocked when we discover what our mere words have done.
Blessings as you continue, Jane.

At 1:15 PM, Blogger batgirl said...

I lost a dear friend to cancer a few years back-- a beautiful sister in Christ who died at 41. God used her life in big ways. I don't have Bette's gift of evangelism, her love of doing children's ministry, or her hospitable spirit. But then God made me to write, and He knows what He's doing. I know that things I learned from knowing and losing Bette go into my writing and God can use that. I spend plenty of time pondering those questions though.


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