If it's Wednesday, we're talking about reading and knitting along with Ginny. Since last week, life has moved along at a very quick clip. The relentless activity, together with the fact that I'm stalled until I learn to pick up stitches has left my Baby Surprise Jacket mostly unchanged since I shared it with you Saturday.
Yesterday, in a mental health move, I did cast on for Girl's Cap Sleeved Shirt, like the one Carmen made Sarah. I love that shirt--it's a great layering piece and she wears it and wears it and wears it. So, I set about to make her another one, in a pinkish (of course) Rowan Amy Butler Belle Organic Aran yarn. I have cast on twice now. I'm beginning to think that every time I start a new pattern, I will have to start more than three times to get it right. Pretty sure I'm going to pull this all out and start again.
So, enough about knitting. I have been reading this week, in odd moments here and there. Several weeks ago , when TLC book tours contacted me to ask about The Jesus Prayer, they mentioned that The Council of Dads would also be on tour. In a moment of recklessness, I abandoned my twenty-year tradition of never reading books that even make reference to cancer. (Yes, I even abandoned The Penderwicks a few pages in because the mother--named Elizabeth--died of cancer. My children have read it on their own.) Lately, I am recognizing that I can't run from this disease and I can't deny that it is part of who I am. Better then, to learn about living with cancer and after cancer from wise people who have traveled that journey. And who write phenomenally well.
This book is a page turner. It's the exceptionally well-written story of Bruce Feiler, young man, husband, and father of three-year-old twin girls, who is diagnosed with a rare bone cancer. When face with the possibility that he might not live to raise his daughters, Feiler chose six men who--through their friendship-- had helped shape him and asked them to be there for his daughters in the future. Throughout the book, Feiler intersperses the story of each man's strength and gifts with his own observations on life and with a record of his treatment. It's a truly extraordinary read.
I'm amazed at Feiler's depth and at the articulate men he has befriended. These are men who truly talk--the relationships are deep and strong and meaningful. True, Feiler had cancer. And true, the idea for a council of dads was conceived as a protection and provision should he die prematurely, but at its heart, this book is about living, not dying. It's about living intentionally. Frequently, Feiler refers to his year of chemotherapy and surgery and rehab and misery as "The Lost Year." That year was anything but lost. Indeed, it was lived full of meaning and full of love. He grabbed the gift and the grace that comes with the diagnosis and he lived that gift with grace for all it was worth.
The book stands as an instruction manual for life, a legacy for his daughters. As much as those men in the council will be there for Feiler's girls, Feiler himself will be there, too, in his own written voice, sharing with them the extraordinary insight afforded him by his year with cancer. A life-threatening illness sharpens one's perspective and lends an air of urgency and discrimination to what gets done and what gets said. With the gift of that insight, Feiler is uniquely able to guide other people in establishing their own councils, not necessarily because their lives are threatened, but because life itself is precious and all too often we take it for granted when instead we should live it with a purposeful sense of meaning and mission.
Bruce Feiler isn't dead. He's a survivor. As such, he has left a legacy to all of us who have lived "The Lost Year." He invites us by his example to reflect on the meaning of that year and to honor the struggle it was by always, always living the second chance life with purpose, and always, always investing wholeheartedly in relationships that give life meaning. Personally, he challenges me not to run from the history that is cancer, but to see that in its horror, there is clarity; there is the invitation to live fully.