Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 10, 2003
To die and not have loved is a tragedy
By FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi
God writes straight with crooked lines and sometimes cancer, terrible as it is, gives more than it takes.
When she eventually returned to school, rejoined her friends in their social activities, and picked up the pieces of her former life, she knew that, while things were the same again, they were also very different. In the wake of such an experience, ordinary life is no longer something you take for granted, there's a deeper joy in all things ordinary and a new horizon, wisdom, maturity and purpose that wasn't there before. God writes straight with crooked lines and sometimes cancer, terrible as it is, gives more than it takes.
Her new health is more than physical. It's too a thing of soul, a colour, a depth, a wisdom. Asked publicly by her friends if, given the choice, she would give the illness back so as to have the life she could have had without it, she replied: "No, I wouldn't give it back. Through it I learned about love."
Researchers on the human brain tell us we only use about 10 per cent of our radical brain capacity. Most of our brain cells never get activated, both because we don't need them (they exist for wisdom rather than utility) and because we don't know how to access them.
The same doctors too tell us, paradoxically, two things do help us access them: the experience of love and the experience of tragedy. Deep love and deep pain, together, deepen a soul in a way that nothing else can. That explains why Therese of Lisieux was a doctor of the soul at age 24.
It also explains the wisdom that this young woman now lives out of, gently challenges her friends with, and radiates to the world.
Today, a radiant young woman, Katie Chamberlin, strolls the campus of Gonzaga University, healthy, happy, preparing for a career as a teacher to special-needs children. More importantly, she's wise beyond her years, having learned what most of us only learn when we die, namely, that ordinary life is best seen against a bigger horizon, that life is deeper and more joy filled when it isn't taken for granted, and that love is more important even than health and life itself.
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