Sunday, December 20, 2015

"Hard And Clear"

Write about the hard things, Ernest Hemingway advised, and write clearly. When Jim Coons joined the pastoral staff at Chico’s Bidwell Presbyterian Church, he brought comfort and spiritual challenge to those under his care. When he was diagnosed with colon cancer he became the one who needed comfort.

A year later, “just before Christmas 2009 I was told that I was N.E.D. (No Evidence of Disease).” The story is told, through posts he made on the site, in “A Line In The Sand.” He wouldn’t let cancer define him.

But in the summer of 2010 his father died, from cancer, and in November he faced the news that his own cancer had returned. This would be the last battle, played out over the next five years in honest and eloquent CarePages entries now edited into book form.

“Hard And Clear” ($9.99 in paperback, self-published through Amazon CreateSpace) is the voice of Jim Coons, a husband and dad who tells it like it is. “While I still hold to the conviction that cancer doesn’t have the right to define me,” he writes, “it does, like a glacier, shape who I am and who I am becoming.” Cancer is “scarring and shaping me” and yet “I am still just Jim, a beloved Child of God.”

When a young friend died in 2013, Coons wrote: “I have concluded that it’s not supposed to be this way. But the truth of the matter is that it is this way.… We feel the pressure of our sadness and grief while at the same time the injustice of the world presses in on us too. I feel like I might just pop. This is exactly the place that the power and presence and goodness of God meet us.”

His last entry was in March of 2015, from Lake Tahoe: “God of all comfort and praise here I come, ready or not, exploding on the gates of heaven to sing and praise, rest and sleep, smile and rejoice, to dream once again.” He was at home when he died on Holy Saturday, April 4, 2015.

Because of Christ’s coming, he is now truly at home. And the fishing is great.

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