Excerpts from: The Very Rev. Tracey Lind's Oct. 15 sermon at Emmanuel Church, Geneva, Switzerland
Like many people who receive a terminal diagnosis, I found myself in a season of relief, grief and escape. I was relieved to have the burden of work off of my shoulders, to not be hiding my disease and to realize that I wasn't crazy – there was a reason for my confusion exhaustion and inertia; my struggles with executive thinking and short-term memory; and my word loss and balance issues.
I also suffered a terrible sense of grief, knowing that my career had been cut short, my brain was shrinking, and my time on earth was probably going to end sooner than I had hoped. Emily and I sequenced through the Kubler Ross stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance - like a washing machine cycle - over and over again.
During those three months, we escaped on vacation to the Caribbean, and I took myself on an extended road trip to visit old friends and familiar places. Then, at Lucinda’s invitation, we went to Paris for Easter, traveling by way of a transatlantic, repositioning cruise.
Cruise ships are nomadic. They roam the great waters of the earth. When the seasons change, they tend to relocate to warmer climates, repositioning from one hemisphere to another and offering bargain rates to passengers who have more time than money. For less than the price of an airline ticket, we traveled from North America to Europe.
After sleeping, reading and resting for some 4,000 nautical miles between our two continents, I was “repositioned.” As we passed through the Straits of Gibraltar at midnight on Maundy Thursday, something inside of me shifted, and I was ready to face this new chapter of my life. When Bishop Pierre preached on Easter morning that Christ had risen and we rise, I found myself rising.
At dinner that evening, the Bishop asked me what I wanted to do with this period of my life and ministry. I said that I wanted to continue to preach and teach. I wanted to travel, play music, write and make photographs. I also wanted to be an advocate for people living with dementia and help de-stigmatize this dreaded disease.
In that moment, I realized that wanted to reposition, rethink, reframe this interruption in my life. I wanted to transform it from an exile to an exodus, from a death sentence to a pilgrimage, from a funeral to a wedding banquet, from an intrusion to an invitation. In other words, I wanted to live what I had been preaching for over thirty years: out of pain comes joy, out of brokenness comes wholeness, and out of death comes new life.