Easter celebrations begin on Easter Sunday, but the season of Eastertide extends through May until we reach Ascension and Pentecost. So, there are 7 weeks to rejoice in the light of Christ’s Resurrection. But this time last year my joy was somewhat muted when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in Easter week. I was shocked and felt it was very unfair because we had experienced a major family tragedy the previous year and now here was further cause for concern.
Quickly I was swept along by tests and treatment, appointments and anxious waits to see what would happen next. I was treated with great care and kindness but frequently medical staff as well as acquaintances and friends said ‘I’m sure your faith must be a great help’. How was I to answer? I experienced the same discomfort, anxiety and overwhelming weariness as anyone else and prayer, reading and study were difficult even though I had plenty of time. I was aware of the prayers of colleagues, friends and family which did help. But as many have done when life is tough, I turned to the psalms and found a verse from Psalm 91 very reassuring ‘He shall cover you with his wings and you shall be safe under his feathers’, a wonderful image of God’s love and care.
I made progress slowly, dragged down by various viruses, but found comfort in verses from Lamentations ‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness’. Whether or not my faith made a difference, God’s unfailing faithfulness certainly does!
Now a year has passed and although I still need plenty of rest, my health is much improved. Like the leaves on the trees opening and the spring flowers bursting into life I have a real sense of joy, celebrating not only on Easter Sunday, but on every day the resurrection to new life of Christ within me. The testing experiences of past months have renewed and transformed me and my faith and trust in God.
Revd Jane Culliford
Team Vicar, St Andrew's West Stafford