Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Friday, June 27, 2014

At Night in Niagara Falls

Before going to sleep facing the amazing Niagara Falls, I thought I would read a chapter from the Bible that always enriches my enthusiasm and helps me dream of beauty.

My story with this chapter goes back a while. When, in January 2005, I had a surgery to remove cancerous cells from my left kidney by Dr. Michael Jewett, FRCP(C) - a top-Canadian specialist in prostate and urology surgery and professor of urology surgery at the University of Toronto - I thought the threat of death by cancer was at least postponed. While recovering at Toronto General Hospital I continued reading my favourite books. And one of them was the Bible. I came across chapter 2 of the Gospel according to St. Mark and read: {And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, "If you will, you can make me clean."
Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, "I will; be clean."
And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And [Jesus] sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, and said to him, "See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people." But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter} (Mark 2: 40-45).

How inspiring was this event! Every time Jesus healed somebody the Gospel indicates that faith was required by Jesus. But who am I to have faith? Except that here I found in the hospital that Jesus DID NOT REQUIRE faith in all cases. Probably I am one of those lucky faithless people who are still healed. That was a tremendous inspiring moment. Jesus, moved with compassion, healed the leper....

But wait, not so fast...I was happy to be released from the hospital after a week following the surgery. I went shopping with my wife in the same afternoon that my sister-in-law (the eldest who came from France to be with my wife during this time) wondered whether I was rushing my recovery. My mother-in-law of blessed memory had asked God before the surgery "Why take him - he has kids? Take me instead!" By 2 o'clock in the morning I had found fresh blood in my urine; a sign that, the doctors had warned me, should be enough to be readmitted to emergency. I was rushed to hospital. I knew my INR, the indicator for how thin is my blood, had gone up beyond the limits for my mechanical aortic valve. I was immediately injected with a good doze of vitamin K which coagulates blood. Dr. Jewett visited me to strengthen my spirit. But the bleeding was large enough that it formed a "hematoma" (a block of blood) which rested in the pelvis. To make up for the blood loss, the resident doctor, upon orders by Dr. Jewett, had to order liters of blood in bags to be injected gradually. Meanwhile my hemoglobin count (Complete Blood Count or CBC) went down to 70 which affected my self-awareness. I threw up blood and became sleepy. I rested while my wife spent the nights beside my bed.  Four liters of blood transfusion seemed insufficient to bring back the CBC to 100. Every time I received a liter of blood, my CBC edged up to 90 only to go down to 80. The doctor in charge said to me "That's it. I will try one more time. If your CBC does not go up and stay at 100, we cannot do anything else."  I was scared because this meant I will die. But so many friends, including my family and my extended family, prayed for me and visited me in hospital. My wife was always there. Two older friends prayed over me or with me in hospital, and the nurses took me to attend Mass in the chapel and attended with me.

Thank God, my CBC went up to 100. I spent another 20 days with the hope that my blood count will continue to be stable and go up to near normal level especially that I was back on the anticoagulant by order of the chief cardiologist, Dr. Lu. Dr. Lu, evidently, was concerned for my aortic valve. He met with me and my wife then spoke with Dr. Jewett. By the 20th day my CBC was around 115, and the urine bottle showed lighter blood in the urine, so I walked to the nursing station and asked that Dr. Jewett allow me to go home on my responsibility.  He agreed. A risk taken, but is not life full of risk? I came home. My wife spent with me almost a month at home where we received congratulations from everyone. She took me to be seen by Dr. Jewett who confirmed that he is not concerned with any remaining drops of blood in the urine. He said sternly that cancer could come back so I better go back to him for tests in 6 months. And he recommended that I see with my cardiologist Professor Dr. Sole and the heart surgeon Professor Dr. David how to correct my aortic aneurysm. I had already challenged the medical establishment and I am, thank God, still alive. For more on this see my post of December 2011 here.

In conclusion, Jesus healed me as he healed the leper. And, I could dream nice dreams last night at the beautiful Niagara Falls.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

At The Beautiful Niagara Falls

As my wife, her visiting sister from France and I are on a brief vacation in Niagara Falls, I decided to write these lines which express the beauty we enjoy, the smiling faces we encounter, and the absolute order and discipline in doing things while everyone is respected regardless of age, social status, gender, religion, or culture.The city is naturally a touristic spot where people come from everywhere to relax, have fun, play games, and enjoy a bit of a spirited welcome away from everyday's long hours of work. It makes a difference when you see nice-looking girls and ladies smile to you when they serve you at the restaurant you are dining in even when they are too tired. It makes a difference when you look out the window of the hotel at the magnificent falls, naturally beautiful, and well-lit at night to see new colours.

This is Canada, the center of my family and friends and many other Canadians whose work and their way of living have paid off to be at the top of the OECD's Better Life Index ( Not a single person in the world can argue this fact, but Canada can always find ways to help improve the living conditions of people in other less developed countries without giving them the feeling of condescending "imperialists." Canadians are known for their generosity, their investments in education, business, and peace-keeping between warring tribes and nations. I say this because a few days ago, a highly-respected visiting Syro-Egyptian Catholic priest repeated the slogan "Leave Egypt for the Egyptians and let no country interfere in our affairs." This patriotic slogan was probably used by Abdel-Nasser in his pan-Arab dream that, in spite of improving the conditions of many fellow low-earning Egyptians, creating a medical and retirement insurance protection for all Egyptians, and extending free education to university students, it also brought Egypt's economy to ruin by spending revenues in military support of the "revolutions" in the Arab world, Asia and Africa, and invested in sowing hatred against the civilized world of the West. Today, after 60 years in history of Egyptian governments dictated by the military, Egypt's government must beg the rich countries to lend them money when Germany and Japan have been at the forefront of civilization shortly after their defeat by the Allied Forces in World War II.  How will Egypt join the civilization if Egyptians continue to reject the civilized world remains to be seen.

Dreaming is free but in life it is hard to only dream. We must earn our living which means that we must stand, forgo the past and collaborate with every nation and family and person of good will.  We must discern the good from evil. This is how we work with God. When we give an opportunity to collaboration, we may discover the other, and there we discover God. There is no certainty in this world but we have promises from Christ that we can invest in. Investment, collaboration, love, God. These are the keywords for true civilization.

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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