A Gilbert-based organization has organized an event late next month to offer a plethora of resources and support for breast cancer victims.The event, My Hope Bag’s Breast Cancer Resource Expo, will have organizations like the Virginia C. Piper Cancer Center, doctors and surgeons on hand to provide advice to breast cancer victims and their families.“When women are going through their breast cancer, they don’t know the resources available to them,” said My Hope Bag President Sarah Ellery.The expo is an extension of what My Hope Bag provides women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, as the organization provides bags with information and other items. Items include a notebook for journal writing, a pocket calendar, a back scratcher, a poem written specifically for the person and a heart pillow. The bag might also include a stuffed animal, slipper socks, healing oils and other gifts.The back scratcher is an item that has unexpected benefits for women undergoing breast cancer treatment and a tool some people wouldn’t think about during treatment. That idea of the unexpected parts of treatment carries over to the expo, as Ellery said some of the vendors scheduled to attend include air-conditioning companies, wig companies and a company that makes garments with drain tubs for women who have undergone a mastectomy.“There are a lot of things that come up that you don’t think about,” she said.
We crossed three ecological zones, hiked over sweeping grasslands, descended deep canyons and went back in time millions of years – all in the course of under four miles. When it was all over, I turned to one of my hiking partners and said, “that was great,” and she responded, “one of the best trails I’ve ever hiked.”My hiking partner was not just any weekend hiker. Mary Berger, a long-distance backpacker, has about 17,000 hiking miles under her walking shoes including the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest trail from Canada to Mexico, so when she says the trail was one of the best she had ever hiked in the United States I listened closely.Where is this fantastic short trail? In the Rocky Mountains? Around Lake Tahoe? Near Moab, Utah? No, not even close. It’s in the panhandle of Nebraska near the small town of Crawford.If you’re thinking Nebraska, one long flat land mass with endless wheat fields, you haven’t really been there, at least not in the western panhandle where the Great Plains begins to break up and huge bluffs, massive rock monuments and canyons formed by ancient rivers scatter across the landscape. When you are in the Nebraska panhandle, you know the Rocky Mountains are not far away.This was Indian country, buffalo lands, where Dull Knife’s Sioux warriors escaped captivity and the place where famed warrior Crazy Horse died with a bayonet in his back while in the hands of treacherous American soldiers.Even before all this, actually thousands and thousands of years before all that happened, ancient, migratory peoples lived across these rugged lands and once a year about 11,000 years ago they gathered to slaughter bison at a deep spring now called Hudson-Meng Bison Kill Bed.
Love others as much as you love yourself,” Jesus told his followers. These words are considerably more than a sugary Sunday-school story. For those who take these words to heart, “love others” has profound, life-altering implications, not all of which are warm and fuzzy. Consider the life of Bernard Lichtenberg, arrested seven decades ago. His crime: He loved. Lichtenberg was a Catholic priest serving in Berlin before the outbreak of World War 2. When Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power, he recognized the coming terror better than most, and made it his ambition to help the Jewish people and other persecuted groups.Lichtenberg spoke and acted boldly in defense of the Jews, and his repeated protests quickly landed on the ears of government officials. Then, as he knew would be the case, these protests landed him in the crosshairs of a Gestapo investigation. After years of tension, Lichtenberg was finally imprisoned for his opposition. During his interrogation Lichtenberg was given the opportunity to recant his words and change his ways. He would not. Rather, he said: “I reject with my innermost the [deportation of the Jews] with all its side effects, because it is directed against the most important commandment of Christianity, ‘You shall love your neighbor as much as you love yourself’.“However, since I cannot prevent this governmental measure, I have made up my mind to accompany the deported Jews and Christian Jews into exile, in order to give them spiritual aid. I wish to ask the Gestapo to give me this opportunity.” Considered irredeemable by the Third Reich, Lichtenberg’s appeal was granted. He was condemned and consigned to the concentration camp at Dachau. Aged, frail, and in a weakened state, Bernard Lichtenberg died while waiting to be deported in November of 1943.It is hard to say that Father Lichtenberg, almost single-handedly opposing the Nazi war machine, was acting in a reasonable or sensible manner. How could he, as one man, ever hope to achieve “justice” for the oppressed? What could one pulpit minister do to dismantle or otherwise deter such a system of death? Not much, except to be persecuted, imprisoned, or executed. No, Bernard Lichtenberg was not being practical. He was being love. Such love can appear like madness, leading the follower of Jesus into all manner of impracticality. Loving our neighbors as ourselves means we turn the other cheek when we are assaulted, we abandon the selfishness and power-grubbing ways of this world, we refuse to repay evil with evil, and we forgive others rather than retaliate against them.The problem is obvious: Loving and living like this will put us in vulnerable, seemingly defenseless positions. To willingly behave this way, in the “real world,” will only get us abused, maligned, taken advantage of, or worse. These “opportunities,” as Lichtenberg called them, clearly aren’t very pragmatic. Yet, pragmatism doesn’t seem to be Christ’s principal concern. We are instructed to love, following Jesus’ own example, not because it is practical, reasonable, logical, or the safest way to live in the world. We actively participate in this way of Jesus because it gives witness to the good and loving God of heaven.Not for a minute should we think that unselfishly loving our neighbors will save the world from all hate and violence. It won’t make our membership rolls at the church grow, get more people into the pews on Sunday, or achieve justice for all society. None of these are the point. We love our neighbors as ourselves not because it always “works,” but because it witnesses. Love for others is a clear reflection of the love of God – and that is the point.