The Path of Faith: A Choice – 5

As I sit here in the beautiful sunshine with the breezes gently blowing on the palms, and the warm California air bathing my mind, body and soul. I am so grateful for the 98 years that I have been given to enjoy and participate in the energy of the universe, to serve, to learn, and to teach.

My house sits at the top of a hill: the view manifests the beauty in every direction.  I have had such an amazing, truly awesome life. The opportunities seem more than anyone deserves. The lessons are always beyond belief.  The opportunities to be, to do, and see never cease (and I say, to see) even though my eye sight is getting weaker, so much of the seeing has not to do with physical, but what lies in my heart and soul.

My walk with my Creator is hard for me to fathom; therefore, it is difficult to put to paper to explain to someone else the nature of my journey. It is particularly difficult to explain cancer’s journey with me. So many of the choices and episodes that I made are contrary to cultural attitude, cultural expectations, and what may be perceived as normal.  I have chosen to not let cancer dominate my life and not allow the “Big C” to frighten me or to control my choices.  I had cysts removed from my ovaries and suspicious tissue removed from my left breast when my children were small. My doctor told me in a matter of fact way and did not make a big deal of the findings. I don’t remember whether I was frightened.  As a very busy young mother, teacher, wife, and community member, somehow I lived with little thought about any cancer issues. I had my yearly pelvic exam, I had my yearly conversation with the doctor and went on with my life.

 

If You Knew What Would Be Different? – 3

I traveled a different path, one of faith and trust–trust in my God and the body that I was given at my birth. It is a constant test of my faith and trust, and it is a constant research project for my always curious and creative encounter with life.

In my professional career, I wonder about the questions I might have had in the progression of jobs that I have been so blessed to have.  I don’t even know when the beginning time of the cancer was. But it has been there for decades, that I know. What would have been different about the questions of the reporters when I ran for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1970 if they had known I had breast cancer? Would I have been able to be an Associate Professor of Education at Cal Western University, if the Dean had known that I had breast cancer? Would I have been invited to be an Assistant Dean, Graduate Studies, at the University of Cincinnati? What questions would have been asked about my health at Oregon State when I was chosen Dean of Education? Would cancer have been a part of the reason for retiring from Oregon State University if it had been known? Would I have been able to have the wonderful career I had at National University for 13 years after my retirement? I was then in my sixties. It wasn’t in the mix at all.

Age was starting to factor in employment. What would cancer have added to the mix? I had wonderful years at National University. Would I have had the same incredible relationship with my students over the years if they knew I had breast cancer? Would they have attributed anything they disliked or saw in my behavior to cancer? As it was, we could always have a dialogue without any thought about what might be happening “because I had cancer.”

Would I have had the same relationship with my church family? This was a little tougher. I often had the desire to share my secret with them because I believe in prayer. But I didn’t. If I could have suggested only positive prayers and a concentration of wellness with trust in our Lord, it might have worked. I’ll never know about that past. It was a conflict for me. Somehow I had a pact between me and my Creator; that was my source of support, hope, and comfort. It was, and is, a constant struggle to keep in the river of faith.

I still consider My Lord to be my Great Physician. I believe everything that I need is there; being able to access it for my cancer and life is a daily challenge. Maintaining an attitude of gratitude is so important. I have to think each day about what I can do, not what is lacking. Every day. Every day.

My Secret Journey with Cancer – 2

How did I live this long with cancer?

As you are thinking as you are reading this, why wouldn’t you want to take care of this when it was little?  Because it didn’t bother me. I lived these many years in what most people would say perfect health. How many times was I asked how I stay so healthy? I cannot begin to innumerate the times people have talked about my energy, my health in general, and my capacity for work.

I have been a professional in education at all levels for over seventy years. I suppose for most people this would be three careers. I was fortunate to include in all these beautiful years a family with two incredible sons, four awesome grandchildren and many, many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, as a lucky person born into a big family. I have had the opportunity all these years to live in the greatest country, experience the world United States of America, this great Republic. I have been given opportunities to serve, to grow and learn that are boundless and seemingly impossible.

I know it is difficult for anyone reading this to believe that no one knew.

I did not tell my family, I did not tell my friends, I did not tell my pastor, I did not tell my personal doctor, not other specialists, I did not even tell my friends or family who were experiencing cancer, not anyone. There may have been a couple of doctors involved in my first life scans. In essence I told no one. It really remained between me and my Creator who gave me the body and will to fight it. I believe my professional life would have been difficult if it had been known by all those living around me that cancer was living with me.

They would have thought about me as not completely healthy. They would have thought about me as a victim. They would not have the same impressions about my superior health, my superior energy, and my ability to work for many years. The things that make a professional life as successful. There would have been literally hundreds of people looking at me knowing I had breast cancer; hundreds of people seeing Sy Tucker as not well rather than incredibly healthy and energetic. My opportunities would have been quite different if many of the people I’ve met in my life had the knowledge of cancer being present in my body.

As a pioneer woman in the greatest generation, I have had the opportunity to work in many fields. As a professional, my main research field has been the study of the brain and thinking and learning. The critical aspect of the brain is our thoughts. We become what we think. Consider thought as something we create at all times, and something that is created around us by others at all times. This creative process is our connection to the Divine and the Infinite.

I must ask you the question? If hundreds of people I worked with knew that I had cancer or disease, would they continue to think of me as a healthy, energetic professional? I know the answer to this. It’s scientifically one of the reasons for my choice.

If You Knew I Had Cancer – 1

Introduction:

As I start to publish pieces of a special book, If You Knew I Had Cancer, it is important for the reader to know that this journey has been long and a journey travelled solely with my Great Physician. These are accounts of the deepest journey of faith I have travelled in my lifetime. This is the documentation of cancer trying to exist and grow in my body and finding it very difficult because the Great Physician and I were teaming against it.  No one knew. I told no one that I had breast cancer; I did not tell my family, not my doctor, not my friends, not my church family, not anyone. It is important to know that I viewed cancer not as a victim, but as someone having an unwanted travelling partner. I would not let cancer control my life nor would I have others spending time asking me about the big “C.”

These writings, diary entries, are an effort to help with choices women have who live with cancer. I am not advocating for any specific choice; I just want to tell my story of faith as medicine.  I am quite certain that the incredible career that I have had over these many decades with the unwanted travelling companion could not have existed in the same way if people were aware that I had cancer.

Part of the reason for my choice grew from not only my belief in my Great Physician, but from my knowledge and professional career involved in the study of the brain, learning and the power of our thoughts. It grew also from my belief that I was given at my birth everything that I needed to become all that I was created to be.

All of these ideas are contrary to the way cancer is viewed in our culture. The minute persons are diagnosed with cancer they become victims to that culture. I refuse to live like a victim. Once my cancer was known to my family and my physicians, medical options were introduced as treatment. Faith still remained dominant.

The excerpts that follow are personal accounts from my unpublished book, If You Knew I Had Cancer: My Personal Journey with Faith.

Special Thoughts for the Christmas Season

It’s time to go back and look at the Mayflower Compact as an original self-governing document.

Yes, I remembered the Mayflower and those aboard that historical ship in my Thanksgiving prayers. These 102 brave souls endured the hardships of the journey only to find that they had landed in a place where they did not have a patent. They had been given permission by the Virginia Company of London to land anywhere on their holdings. They also were given permission to govern themselves. They knew with the winter coming that they had to go ashore. Before they went ashore, they produced and signed The Mayflower Compact.  They pledged to create a political body that would be ruled by law and based on the consent of the governed and in the “name of God.” It was the creation of a political document patterned after an original spiritual covenant.

The document clearly represents people of God creating their own government.  The creators made clear that the political power or the power of any person elected to govern would have such power come only from the people governed. It also made clear that they believed that they received their liberty and freedom from God. That’s what they were advancing. They were called Pilgrims because they moved from the tyranny of rulers and risked all for freedom of religion. That’s how they wanted to live and what they wanted to secure for those who followed.. These first freedom pioneers on our shores understood and acted on the covenant they knew between them and God. The incredible addition was the covenant between each other. Founding documents that  followed have been founded on the same Christian and political principles.

One of the paintings in the U.S. Capitol depicting great moments in  American history is of Reverend John Robinson’s prayer meeting aboard the Mayflower before it sailed for America. How many children, or the rest of us, have been shown or have seen the Bible and the name of Jesus on the open page as a part of the true history of America? The painting is just one visible sign of our beginnings. Most of our founding rests in the documents like the Mayflower Compact and those that followed. They were explicitly and carefully designed to help us be a self-governing people and to remind us of the origins of our freedoms.

Yes, this Christmas is a good time to go back and look at our self-governing document that was created before we ever landed and see what those first pilgrims produced.

 

A Walk to Remind us of Our Christian Heritage – The Capitol Part 1

We leave the magic of the Tidal Basin in cherry blossom time and head for the Capitol. The significance of the three “greats” we have just visited in our walk, Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson, will be even greater as we see the home of the Legislative Branch of our government. This branch was created to make certain that we remained “We the People.”  I thought about the arguments that were present as our Founders struggled and argued passionately about creating a government that would ensure a legacy of freedom. What was needed to insure the continuation of this great experiment in self-government?

They had no pattern; this was not a cookie-cutter government. They had no former path to follow. They knew that power had to always rest with the people; they knew that they had to have checks and balances. They also had to have a branch that adjudicated when differences could be settle no other way. They created our republic. They created this “shining city on a hill.”

They fought; they struggled; they died to create a new birth of freedom under God with justice for all, with the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. They declared their independence from tyranny and abused power. They created this government where the Executive Branch, the president, is one leg, but only one leg of three. The Capitol building we see ahead houses another one of the legs.  The arguments about this branch were vigorous and passionate. Some wanted a strong central government and others wanted the power to be decentralized.

The Founders finally decided on having two groups: to create equality between the small and large states, each state would have two senators; the second group would be based on the population of the state, the representatives.

Our next part of the walk is to explore the art in the Capitol that depicts our Christian heritage.

A Walk to Remind us of Our Christian Heritage – Jefferson Memorial

The stark reality of the Lincoln years do not fade away; the statue of the man decreases with the distance as we walk away. But the magnitude of his contributions to our nation do not. We approach the Jefferson Memorial.

Again our conversation moves to how we honor the past and recognize the lessons the past holds for us in the fast-moving-digital present, let alone the future.

When the cherry trees that surround the Tidal Basin are in bloom, it is a magnificent sight. The Jefferson Memorial rests on the south bank of the Basin. The neo-classical structure of the Memorial adds to the  beauty of the place.  As we climb the broad steps to the portico, we turn to marvel again at the reflections of the cherry blossoms on the water. We enter the dome of the monument to find ourselves surrounded by the words of Thomas Jefferson, the president, the architect, inventor, musician, and writer.

We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So avows our Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson was 33 when he authored this document.

We read on. Though there has been much effort to minimize the Christian beliefs of Thomas Jefferson, we see much evidence to the contrary. He was a strong advocate for religious freedom. He took great pride in authorship of The Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom passed in January, 1786. The Memorial reminds us: Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free, that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishment or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to…

As we stand in the memorial, the words of the third President are etched in the marble. Jefferson’s words need to ring out again in our nation each year the cherry blossoms return to adorn the Tidal Basin and add extraordinary elegance to the beautiful edifice, the Jefferson Memorial.

May the return of the cherry blossoms each spring be a visible reminder of Jefferson’s words: we hold these truths to be self evident…

We descend the wide steps from the portico and breathe in the beauty of the cherry-blossom-lined Tidal Basin. Jefferson would approve of the site. His home, his beloved Monticello, was a beautiful result of his architectural skills. But his real passion was to give shape, substance, and essence to freedom for all in the new nation he was helping to bring into existence–this one-of-a-kind experiment known as our United States of America.

A Walk to Remind Us of Our Christian Heritage – Lincoln Memorial

The Washington D.C. sky is blue and as we leave the Washington Monument the monuments of the mall stand in relief against their background. The Washington Monument sends its tall, grand shadow across the water of the reflection pool. As you take a peek back to make certain that this obelisk is as significant as its reflection indicates, you are struck again with the majesty of the structure.

We turn our eyes toward our next stop–The Lincoln Memorial. Even from the distance the figure of Abraham Lincoln is as imposing in marble as it was in life. This tall man is seated in the sculpture, but remains large and impressive. As you approach the scene, the serenity of the place is in sharp contrast to memories of the horrible sights and sounds of the strife and struggles during Lincoln’s Presidency. We climb the expansive steps to the man and his words. The man sits surrounded by many of his most memorable words–statements and expressions of his fanatic search for justice and guidance.

Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address in 1861, was given when he was facing the secession of the South and the mammoth divide in the nation he loved. Inscribed is: Intelligence, patience, Christianity, and firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are yet competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficultiesIn God we Trust is all around us in the Capitol. Lincoln’s statement confirms his trust.

As we feel the solemnity of this place, we read on. The Gettysburg Address carved in the wall speaks; one cannot read the words without remembering the images of the battle and the terrible toll, the field of dead bodies. Lincoln’s words are not only etched in the walls, they ring in our ears and the tears sting our eyes…that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom…  Yes, under God. This same God that our Founders knew provided the Divine Guidance for their deliberations. And it’s the same God we know from our Bible, the Book that has guided our Christian Heritage since its founding. It is the God in our national anthem and our Pledge of Allegiance. Its the God in our national DNA.

When anyone proclaims that we are no longer a Christian nation, they are saying what we see and know of our Christian Heritage is gone, fading away, a myth, or replaced. Has our tolerance for other religions and our unshakable belief in religious freedom made it easy to take our strength, our tolerance, and use it to erase our founding, our Christian beginnings?”

We finish reading the inscriptions on the walls; we stand beside the mammoth statue of Lincoln. The words of this great President fill the air of the chamber; they are carved in stone but they are alive in this place. The Emancipation President knew this nation could only survive the tidal wave of secession and the Civil War that followed with the help of continuing Divine Guidance.

We leave the sculpture of the giant behind us as we walk down the many steps, but we can never leave the teachings and the influence on us and our country of this man. It was during his Presidency that In God we Trust was placed on our currency. How many times a day do we touch a coin or bill that reminds us of that motto?

We take one look back at the enormity and significance of this American President as he looks out across the Capitol. We turn our eyes to the next stop in our journey and conversation about who we are. We make our way toward the Jefferson Memorial. Silence exists for most of the way; the Lincoln Memorial has that effect on its visitors.

A Walk to Remind Us of Our Christian Heritage – Washington Monument

There are constant reminders all around us that try to convince us that we are no longer a Christian nation. There is incessant denial of any Christian heritage to say that we had Divine Guidance at our beginning is ridiculed. Some of our national heroes are declared to be atheists or agnostics. Let’s just take a little walk around some Washington D.C., monuments to see what they still tell us.

As we make our way to the Washington Monument, our first stop, we discuss the spirit in a Christian White House. The many prayers and supplications of the first occupant of the White House, George Washington, must surely live in the walls of the rooms that heard those prayers.

We arrive at the Washington Monument. The magnificent obelisk stands tall against the morning sky. We touch the cornerstone; there the sacred Bible of the first President of these United States has been placed. Prayer was a cornerstone of the life of George Washington. And at the top of the monument is an aluminum cap that proudly bears the words Laus Deo. Those are the first words the sun touches as it shines on our Capitol. Praise be to God, those words say as they attest the presence of God to the sun, the raindrops, the fog, or snow that sometimes grace the monument grounds. But there they are, this declaration of our Christian heritage. If we were still allowed to climb the many stairs, we would witness Scripture. But we can feel the presence of our Creator in the majesty of this tall structure as it reaches toward heaven.

The Monument is a fitting reminder of the man, George Washington. This man was so popular following the Revolutionary War that he could have been King. Thankfully, he was the kind of man who just wanted to return to his plantation and be a farmer. But that was not to be; he became our first President.

From the time that his mother sent him off to war and commended him to the Providence of God and reminded him to private prayer, Washington continued to give testimony to his belief in the Providence of God. He became a legend as a warrior, even to the Indians; it seemed impossible to kill him. He believed that he ” was protected beyond all human probability and expectation, for I had four bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me, yet I escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me.”

George Washington was a most remarkable man. He was a noble and pious gentleman. But there are many who have rewritten history, and our children may not even know what his birthday is. They have vacation “celebrating” presidents’ day. Yes, there are many efforts to deny, distort, or minimize our Christian heritage.

As we gaze at the beauty of the Washington Monument, I wonder if the president notices the Monument as Air Force One takes off or lands in his nation’s capitol. And if he could read the aluminum cap from the sky, what would it say?

We turn and walk toward the Lincoln Memorial. That will be our next stop on our walk. The cherry blossoms are gorgeous and the sky is blue; the Monument stands erect, proud and maintains its mastery of the sky. And at the top, the aluminum cap still says Laus Deo, Praise be to God.

We never have been anything but a Christian nation. That does not mean that we are all Christians; it means we have welcomed all other religions. We were founded because people sought and fought for religious freedom. Our Republic was established to secure and maintain freedom for all. May Providence forever protect our Christian heritage that was designed to keep us free.

George Washington–Lest We Forget Who He Was

From the time that his mother sent him off to war and commended him to the providence of God and reminded him to private prayer, Washington continued to give testimony to his belief in the providence of God. He became a legend, as a warrior, even to the Indians; it seemed impossible to kill him. He believed that he “was protected beyond all human probability and expectation, for I had four bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on  every side of me.”                           .

There is too much in Washington’s own pen and those who were close to him, for the revisionists version of him to have any credence. He prayed regularly. Each night at nine o’clock he would go to his library to pray; people who had to seek answers in case of an emergency would find him on his knees praying in front of his open Bible. He did the same thing early in the morning. Washington also kept the Sabbath; he attended church, he did only those things that were absolutely necessary. He was a pious man

 Washington even conducted worship services for his troops when there was no chaplain assigned. During the French and Indian War when he was in charge of the troops defending the country, he led the troops in religious services. He was a man of such honor, he conducted a burial service for General Braddock who died in the French and Indian War. Washington was just a Colonel, but he carried a small Anglican book of worship and prayer. Washington would retire to his tent each night for prayers, or go into the woods if he couldn’t get away from people.

 Washington believed in Divine Providence. When Washington became commander in chief of the American forces in the Revolutionary War, an order to the troops confirmed his belief.

 The General most earnestly requires and expects  a due observance of those articles of war established for the government of the army, which forbid profane cursing, swearing, and drunkenness. And in like manner he requires and expects of all officers and soldiers, not engaged in actual duty, a punctual attendance of Divine service, to implore the blessing of Heaven upon the means used for our safety and defense.

 This was a most remarkable man. He was a noble and pious gentleman. Assassination of character would seem impossible as you come to know this man. Perhaps it is because his life was lived in such a devout manner to religion and civility, that the efforts to destroy him are so brutal and untrue. He must become know again to our young, those in the middle who have learned the distortions, and a reminder must be given to those of us who are seniors lest we forget.