A Postage Stamp and a New Point of View

A Postage Stamp and a New Point of View
“Some moments in life take up a whole wall,” Duke said. “They’re like giant murals. They’re all we see, even if that moment happened a long time ago.” My friend Duke Tufty, senior minister at Unity Temple on the Plaza in Kansas City, is one of those gifted speakers who can be in front of a thousand people, but still connect with each individual. He shared his thoughts on perspective one spring morning more than 13 years ago. I felt as if he was talking only to me, and I still remember his exact words. Painful experiences in my life sometimes feel like they’ve burned a hole in my soul, that they overpower everything. My early childhood was fraught with moments of excruciating cruelties, and only through determined effort have I managed to eclipse their bleak shadows. “What if, for a moment,” Duke challenged, “your mural shrunk. It became a picture window instead of the whole wall.” At the time, I was willing to consider that possibility. I wanted to let my angst go. So, I visualized my pain shrinking in proportion to Duke’s analogy. As Duke’s lesson went on, his mural kept getting smaller, from a picture window to a portrait. From a portrait to a post card. From a post card to a postage stamp. And I decided that a postage stamp is a manageable-sized square on the quilt that is my life. Cancer can be like that mural, too, a monstrosity that hogs up all the space even though most of life doesn’t have anything to do with cancer. When my husband found the lump in my breast, a rock-hard nugget that demanded all our attention, I guess it was natural for that moment to project itself into oversized status. Those early days, scrambling to find a doctor, wrestling with insurance companies, wrangling with new government policies
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