Losing Battles — Raising Lazarus
I have a dear friend who is going in for cancer treatment for the second time in five years. Do you know what her parents said to her? “Well, you must have really had some bad karma from a past life…” Do you know what she has heard people say? That if you lose to cancer, you are weak.
In her darker moments she thinks something must be wrong with her. And we, the evolved spiritual crowd, are all to happy to oblige. Because she “attracted” it into her life. Because maybe she wasn’t “positive” enough? Surely she kept attracting more and more negativity until it turned into cancer. Strong enough! Yes, that must be it — didn’t complete the “beat the cancer” basic training! Or maybe yeah, karma, right?
How did we come to this? How did we come to re-frame cancer as a “battle” and therefore getting sick as “losing”? How did we come to babble endlessly about “positive thinking” and “light and love” and playing God, while ignoring the basic needs for communion, compassion, stability, loyalty and trust? For knowing that we will be at their side no matter what?
I think it’s time to remember that people who die are not losers. That those who get sick are not somehow “damaged”. I may surprise you, but no matter how positive you are, you will die, too. One day you will actually die. And it will not make you a loser, or a winner, for that matter. How you lived your life will make a difference — but the perception of what is significant is very much different between the living and the dying…
I agree that diseases have psychosomatic causes — such as anger, despair, hopelessness or seeing no purpose in life. Diseases are also influenced by nutritional factors, environmental pollution, radiation, exposure to chemicals, genetic factors, ancestral trauma that we carry, the time of conception and gestation, and the obscure soul choices and mistakes that are hidden beyond the veil. Disease is, paradoxically, an indicator that the body is alive, that it wants to heal, that it cannot bear the distortion anymore.
Do you know that episode from the Christian Bible where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead? Lazarus died while Jesus was away, even though his sisters sent for him to come and heal their brother. According to the Jewish belief at the time (and later on), the soul “lingers near the body for three days, hoping that it will return to life” (Tanhuma, Miqetz 4), and “After three days, the soul returns to God to await the time of resurrection” (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 90b-91a).
I guess the sisters waited for a miracle even after Lazarus died. They knew nothing was impossible, at least in theory. That there was still hope. That the soul was still close by. But the days went, and the nights, and Jesus was nowhere to be seen. And as the sun was setting on the third day, their hope was leaving, with the soul of their brother…
Jesus came on the fourth day.
Some say he did it on purpose. To show that nothing — really nothing — was impossible. And maybe the soul can linger as long as it chooses, and maybe it stays around for three days, or maybe for 7, or maybe it watches over the disintegrating body for a whole year — but what are we going to concern ourselves with? What choices will we make?
When Jesus came on the fourth day to show that nothing was impossible, which necessarily means he came with the intention of raising Lazarus from the dead — the first thing he did was weep. Jesus wept. He wept with the sisters, with the grieving relatives, he wept with everyone who missed Lazarus and wished he was alive. He did not give them a sermon on how long the soul lingers by the body, and how many guides escort it to the other realms, and who you need to speak to in those realms. Neither did he speak on the importance of positive thinking, or say that Lazarus wasn’t a good enough “fighter”.
Jesus wept. And then he raised Lazarus from the dead.
May we, too, weep with those who weep, and laugh with those who laugh, and always remember the greatest gift of our humanity — being human.