So, before I go any further, perhaps I should explain a few things; like, why I am writing about having cancer. Well, although I’ve not yet risen to the status of “poet,” I do consider myself somewhat of a “wordsmith.” Over the years, I’ve produced hundreds, perhaps thousands, of articles, brochures, lesson plans, academic papers, and even a little contemporary Christian music. I think writing has become a sort of “therapy” for me. It not only helps clarify my thinking, but also provides some perspective in helping me cope with my emotions. So, I guess, I’m writing for myself as much as for you.
But I guess I’m also hoping that some of my experiences with cancer can minister to others in some way—physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, or in whatever way. I don’t want to compartmentalize my life, or separate any of this, this, this “cancer stuff” from what God is doing with all the rest of my life. I want it all to connect, somehow, to a larger context rooted and grounded in my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
Discovering that you have cancer, or any potentially life-threatening illness, can be more than a little disconcerting for anybody. I am confronted with my own mortality, and just how brief the time remaining to me may actually be. Within a few days of hearing the diagnosis, I began wondering about others who were facing similar circumstances and wanting to, perhaps, connect with some of them somehow. I’ve also begun to feel an intense longing to connect with people I love and who have loved me—or, at least, tolerated me—over the years. Perhaps sharing some of my thoughts, emotions, and experiences, as God walks me though this dark storm, will help facilitate some of those connections. But mostly, I’m just hoping that, by coming to these pages to read about my experiences with cancer, others can be helped in some way with their own life struggles—whatever those struggles may be.
Anyway, I’m calling this collection of writings Looking for a Rainbow because, ever since the days of Noah, the rainbow has served as a constant reminder of God’s intimacy—His love, His promises, and His providential working in our lives. God said:
I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. (Genesis 9:13-15, NASB)
I guess I’ve always been somewhat of a chaser of rainbows and, although they’re not always so easy to see, I’m always on the lookout for them, literally and figuratively. Not only that, but have you ever noticed that rainbows often seem to show up quite unexpectedly, just when we need one most, to remind us of God’s gentle love and care.
Here’s something you probably should know about me. I grew up out in Southwestern New Mexico, in a ranching culture. I’ve had a horse under me virtually all my growing up years and for a significant part of my adult life. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve worked my fair share of cattle. But these days, I don’t ranch cattle. Instead, I’ve taken to ranching… wait for it — “guinea pigs.”
Now, before some of my farming and ranching friends keel over with laughter, consider: A “bale” of Timothy hay only weighs about one pound and I only have to buck hay once a week; my annual vet and feed bill is only a tiny fraction of yours; and although—like all the authentic ranchers I know—I’m still losing money, I’m only losing pennies on the dollar compared to you! Not laughing quite so hard now, are you? Plus, of course, there is the added bonus that they’re awfully cute, cuddly, and nice to hold in your lap on dark, stormy nights; kinda hard to cuddle a cow!
Anyway, wy favorite little guinea pig, was already named Waianuenue—“Rainbow”—when we first rescued him; although I’m convinced that he much preferred to be called simply, “Nui,” which happens to mean “big” in the Hawaiian language. Nui came to us sick, torn up, broken, and bleeding. He was also crippled and became blind. He nearly died on me several times. Yet, his whole little life was a testimony of triumph over adversity. He ended up outliving his normal lifespan by a year and a half—equivalent to an extra 23 years in human terms.
Lots of children got introduced to Nui and instantly loved him. He visited many classroom settings. Through his handicaps and struggles, he enabled us to educate and touch the hearts of many students, kindergarten through high school; helping them appreciate the fact that being “disabled” doesn’t diminish one’s capacity, or need, for love. His little life always reminded me of what Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31, NASB).
So, anyway, there you have it. I’m just an old cowboy, turned educator, who loves rainbows and guinea pigs; and the faith, hope, and love they represent! Whatever trials and struggles you’re facing in life, I hope that this little collection of writings can serve as a link between your heart and mine; and that, as we walk through the storms together, you’ll join me in looking for a rainbow.
Waianuenue (Nui) is gone now, and another little piece of my heart is missing. But another little rainbow–Louie Louie Waianuenue–has come along to help brighten my world with his adorable little antics and spunky-punk attitude. Reminds me of this beautiful little song by Baba B. As I confront the dark clouds coming at me from the distant horizon, I know I can rest assured in God’s promise that there will always be another rainbow.