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Passion flowerHallo again to all.

Long ago in this space — 28 December 1997 — I was a bit under the weather with the 'flu and wrote that I couldn't 'summon the energy for any commentary', that being the quaint term for what became the AO front-page letter. From that time, thanks be to God, I was steadily at my post here at Anglicans Online, until 6 March 2006.

On that Monday, following back surgery, I was diagnosed with lymphoma, a collection of diseases generally described as cancers of the blood. Many of you have kindly followed my progress through the regular updates linked at the foot of this page. Countless numbers of you have sent email or written greetings, with loving good wishes and assurances of your prayers. The outpouring has been quite astonishing; I've occasionally felt unworthy of such love! But far more often I have allowed myself to rest in that golden net of prayer woven by AO readers from 'round the globe. Thank you, thank you, each of you who has remembered me these past weeks in whatever way. I have every intention of responding personally to every email, letter, or card I've received; it may take a while, but I will.

Lent was an extraordinary time for me, beginning with the crossed X of ashes on my forehead, followed two days later by an X marked in indelible pen on my lower back where the surgical incision was to be made, and then three days later, learning that I had cancer and knowing that I should need to get to grips with all that would require. Although I've tried to live abstractly with the Elizabethan practice of a skull on the desk not morbidly, I hope, but in the sense of prompting me to greater and more steadfast love and service the reality of death Right There in my face was entirely different. Yet, through it all, I've had a sense of confidence that all will be well, in whatever way Well may manifest itself. I can't yet say without a catch in my throat, 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him' but perhaps I'm making a little progress towards that. I don't intend to imply in any way that it is God's will that I or anyone be visited with a serious illness. I'm convinced that what happens to us in our lives sub specie aeternitatis is a far more complex matter than some theodicy would have it.

Meanwhile, I'm shrugging off the intricacies of theology, falling back on my own simple prayers, and resting in yours. Chemotherapy is proceeding well enough that I'm planning to return to my AO responsibilities, as much as I can. I'm so grateful that once upon another long time ago, in August 1997, when Tod Maffin gave up Anglicans Online, I decided we should continue it. As one reader wrote to me:

Although we've not met, you feel like a dear friend to me. Each Monday, for a number of years, I look forward to opening AO and reflecting a bit on church & life. You provide a cherished link between Monday & Sunday, work & church, local & international, present & past. So, for all those reasons, I hold you & your family in my heart & prayers as you worked through this cancer. Thank you for allowing those of us who love you from afar to hear how you are doing. Mysteries abound, but with certainty: you are much loved & never alone. Thank you for the many times you & AO have reminded me of the same.

What more could one want?

See you next week, dear friends, in the Great Fifty Days of Easter. Alleluia!

Cynthia McFarland

Last updated: 23 April 2006

(Click for an update on Cynthia's cancer.)

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