Advent Devotion: Turning by Dropping the "e"
Saturday, December 16, 2017
This year, three of my close friends died of pancreatic cancer – Joy, my oldest friend in Washington, DC; Pop, or Gene, who welcomed me into his family when I first visited the U.S. in 1979; and Dan, whose wedding I witnessed a few months before he died.
These deaths have made my ohana (Hawaiian for family or a close group of friends) emotionally fragile. Added to our grief were recent deaths of some of our parents. I try to be strong for them—helping guide the ohana through our collective grief, organizing memorial services, leading pre-cremation blessings, and providing a steady shoulder to cry on. Through it all, I also grieve deeply, but I do not show it.
But upon reading Psalm 126:1-6, I realized that as we weep, our grief eventually turns into a season of abundant joy. As we weep, we also sow the seeds of happiness that yield a bountiful harvest. In the meantime, all it needs is a shift in thinking. By dropping the “e” in the cancer that killed my three friends, the pancreas becomes pancras, which is Greek for “the one who holds everything.” Specifically, the word for me becomes and evokes St. Pancras of Rome, the patron saint of children. St. Pancras was a Roman who converted into Christianity and because of this, he was beheaded for his faith—beheaded at the age of 14. As his life teaches us, we must remain steadfast in our faith through the end, no matter what.
But he also teaches me that while my friends have gone ahead of me to the next life, they also live in the here and now. They live through the children, the grandchildren, and the nephews and nieces they left behind. Through them, the sorrows that we experienced have turned to an abundance of joy.
Adlai J. Amor