In Letters from the Land of Cancer award winning writer Walter Wangerin Jr offers his profound insights into the greatest challenge we face confronting our own mortality Shortly after the cancer had been diagnosed I began writing letters to the members of my immediate family to relatives and to lifelong friends The following book will consist mostly of those letters They will invite you into my most intimate dancing with the cancer even as that partner and I have over the last two years swung each other around the tiled floors of ballrooms and bathrooms Dizzy still and day by day I sat and wrote This is what I'm feeling right now This is what I think From afternoon to afternoon of radiation Wangerin wrote about confronting his mortality about living with the messiness of undone tasks and bodily weakness He wrote about the medical procedures he endured the wild mood swings that unbalanced his days and the fragilities and strengths of the relationships that surrounded him Letters from the Land of Cancer is made up of these writings Cadenced within the letters are Wangerin's eloquent meditations derived from his pastoral experiences with the faithful passage of death to life Seldom has the great adventure of life and death been as beautifully presented as it is in this testimony to faith love and the shocking reality of hope


10 thoughts on “Letters from the Land of Cancer

  1. says:

    My favorite parts of this book Virginia my elegant mother lays her cheek against mine and singsI am Jesus' little lambEver glad at heart I amFor my Shepherd gently guides meKnows my need and well provides meLoves me every day the sameEven calls me by my nameDay by day at home awayJesus is my Staff and StayWhen I hunger Jesus feeds meInto pleasant pastures leads meWhen I thirst He bids me goWhere the quiet waters flowWho so happy as I amEven now the Shepherd's lamb?And when my short life is endedBy His angel host attendedHe shall fold me to His breastThere within His arms to restHenriette L von HaynThis is the closest I come to a word regarding my healing a declaration that in the end it will surely come But I am consoled my dear wife by your persistent prayingWhy can't I bring myself to pray for my own healing? Well it seems a bit presumptuousNot that I don't believe in the prayer's effect I've prayed the same prayer for others with neither hesitation nor skepticism Well perhaps this is a genuine explanation I don't fear death I am peaceful in my present state I feel no urgency for change Why pray for one particular outcome when whatever God chooses for me is altogether fine by me?Look Shadrach Meshach and Abedego just before Nebuchadezzar threw them into the fiery furnace made a statement of faith so magnificent that I don't think there was another such until Jesus himself lived out the same faithNebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that they be brought inNow if you are ready to fall down and worship the statue that I have made well and good But if you do not worship you shall immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire and who is the god that will deliver you out of my hands?They said We have no need to present a defense to you If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand O king let him deliver us But if not be it known to you that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set upEven if God gives them no sign at all yet they will obey himWhichever the case the three young men will not break their faith Whether they live or whether they die it is all one with themEven if my God should take no extraordinary measures regarding my life I am neverthe less at peaceThey didn't pray Simply they stuck to the Lord God He would do as he pleased God was God however he chose to actLikewise Jesus even hanging on the cross dying suffering what seemed the abandonment of his Father yet he obeyed even unto deathWhy resting my soul upon the everlasting bosom of my Lord should I be any different?Christ is altogether trustworthy than the leaders of this earth are proving themselves to be Grief and fear and a pandemic of self serving behaviors trouble the peoples leaders increase the fear distort the behaviors invert righteousness and their destructions abound These things are true They have been true since we hid from God even if they do seem extreme in these latter yearsAnd here Linda comes the real source of my peace on the threshold of deathWatch in this chapter for the relationship between the Holy Shepherd and his flock John 10The sheep hear his voice He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out When he has brought out all his own he goes ahead of them and the sheep follow him because they know his voice They will not follow a stranger but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers I am the good shepherd I know my own and my own know me just as the Father knows me and I know the Father And I lay down my life for the sheep I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold I must bring them also and they will listen to my voice My sheep hear my voice I know them and they follow me I give them eternal life and they will never perish No one will snatch them out of my hand What my Father has given me is greater than all else and no one can snatch it out of the Father's hand The Father and I are oneAnd this finally is the merciful consequence of the Savior's calling our names Eternal lifeLinda how did Jesus raise Lazarus whom he dearly loved from the dead? He called the dead man by his name LazarusAnd how did he revive Mary Magdalene grieving the death of her whole existence? MarySo it shall be with meThe shepherd will come he who leads me out by my name and by the resounding gift of his voiceAnd he will say to my dead self WalterAnd I will be againThe creating word itself will give me ears to his voice And a mind of soaring mystery to know it And I like Lazarus will riseI like Mary Magdalene will emerge from the death of hopelessness and anguished tears and distressWalter Jesus will say and in that instant my soul will know Jesus that it is he And in the light of his familiar voice in the sweet re declaration of my name I will even know me who I am and therefore that I amResurrected do you see?Right now therefore I am to hold lightly both death and life and the life which shall be