The Cancer Game©
Have you ever played The Cancer Game© ? I have played it many times now, and I must say I found it very beneficial.
The cancer game is played in this way: take time for yourself, and find a crowded spot in the place where you live. Then imagine that you have just been told by the doctor that you have an incurable cancer, and just a few months to live, perhaps five or six before having to enter a hospital.
Repeat this to yourself, many times, and let it sink in. Get in that state of mind.
And then observe the world around you.
You will see around you a world of beauty and wonderment. The great grace that is Life appears to you in all its splendour. The people walking around seem, in a way, all beautiful, but unaware themselves of their great beauty. The traffic, the honking cars, the noisy buses hit your senses like a beautiful movie, now sadly about to end but so intensely graceful. The sky above is so beautiful as it never was. The smells in the air so sweet of the sweetness of life, sprinkled everywhere by a good God of Whom most of those people you are observing are, actually, perfectly oblivious. Still, Grace is everywhere: in the face of the people, in the clouds above, in the restless movement that you see around you. It is as you had pierced the veil of your constant concerns and worries and planning and stopped to see the beauty of creation for what it is, now in the middle of it but also as a spectator about to take leave from the show. Again, you notice that Grace is what appears to shine everywhere and fill everything.
The Cancer Game© is, at its root, not new at all. Countless wise people have practiced it since the dawn of Christianity in one form or another. You can visit, in Palermo, a Capuchin monastery with thousands of skeletons in plain view along its rooms and corridors. The good friars have walked along those corridors for many centuries, and have been constantly reminded of their final destination. Wise good men, they were; unafraid of death, and healthily vigilant about their souls. Their game and mine are just variations of a simple thought: memento mori, probably best translated with “remember death”, though “mori” is obviously a verb (therefore, more like “remember the dying”).
We need to prepare ourselves for our death. We need to have death as a constantly present possibility in our life. Not only will this help us to develop a healthy fear of the Lord, but it will make the real news easier to digest if that is the kind of news we will, one day, receive. We will also (at least I certainly did) develop a keener appreciation for the gift of a healthy life, and for the beauty of life in general, for as long as it will please God to make both lasts.
No, you will not develop a cancer for playing The Cancer Game©. You will develop a cancer if the Lord has decreed, out of all eternity, that you should get one. And that, my friend, has already been decided for you even as you read this.
I suggest you play The Cancer Game ©, every now and then, when you have time and inclination. When the shivers down the spine cease it is a good sign that you are making progress. We are on this show for a short time only, and we might be told every day that our time is up.