Every step of the journey is the journey.”
– Zen saying

My legs dangled off the exam table like those of a child on a swing. It was November 2017, and I was seated in the claustrophobic office of my urologist. We both waited impatiently for the arrival of my wife, Kathy. He had just delivered news to me which we all had hoped not to hear: a simple blood test indicated that the chronic illness for which I was treated nine years earlier had returned.

Nobody is exempt from such moments in life. In fact, whether an illness or other stressors, we will all face times of adversity and challenge. The question is how to move forward.

At 68, I decided to experience this news as a type of rebirth, a renaissance to fuel my passions and thrust me onward. No time like the present! I looked again at the goals I’d set for myself 40 years ago. Among these were to:

  • Make a positive difference in the world while maintaining some sense of anonymity
  • Travel the globe
  • Celebrate 50 years of marriage with Kathy
  • Work until age 70, retire, then work until death

I adopted those as my lead loads. And what a help! Focusing on life rather than illness drenches my spirit with endless possibilities to continue to help contribute to the well-being of others. I am convinced this is my true calling. As a chaplain and seeker of truth, I have come to the following conclusions about the potential life-ending illness with which I live daily: It is a blessing – one that compels me emotionally, physically and spiritually far beyond the limits of my human understanding. It is a gift – which enlivens me to focus, as did renowned journalist and professor Norman Cousins, on the biochemistry of human emotions. Humor, laughter and positivity fill my days. Most enlightening – I am far wealthier spiritually for having shared a part of my life’s journey with cancer.

The Rev. Al Miles works for Pacific Health Ministry as lead chaplain at The Queen’s Medical Center – Punchbowl campus. He cherishes what he describes as “reflective moments in the midnight abyss,” where he bakes, writes and takes long strolls. Chasing The Light is produced by Lynne Johnson and Robin Stephens Rohr.