You wrote this essay in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin for the Winter/Spring of 2012. And you describe this pain and this experience. Would you read that?


Sure. "Six years have passed since I wrote the first words of these notes. I have been in and out of treatment, in and out of the hospital. I have had bones die, joints lock in my face and arms and legs, so that I could not eat, could not walk. Cancer packed my marrow to the point that it began to expand excruciatingly inside my bones. I filled my body with mouse antibodies, small molecules, chemotherapies eating into me like animate acids. I have passed through pain I could never have imagined, pain that seemed to incinerate all my thoughts of God and leave me sitting there in the ashes, alone.

"I have been islanded even from my wife, though her love was constant, as was mine. I have come back, for now, even hungrier for God, for Christ, for all the difficult bliss of this life I have been given. But there is great wariness, too, and fear and fury."


What sustained you through all that?


Oh, I think my family sustained me through it. And I think that faith does sustain me. We have those solitary experiences of the divine, but that's not religion, religion is everything after those moments of solitude. One thing that sustained me is not those solitary moments, which I found conducive to despair. What sustained me was the company of other people who believe. And I was able to talk to them and to take comfort from them. And Dietrich Bonheoffer says that Christ is always stronger in our brother's heart than in our own. Now you don't have to be a Christian for that, to understand what that means.

You've got to have other people. And you need other people to sustain yourself and to sustain your faith.

Christian Wiman on Living with Cancer and Finding Faith

February 23, 2012

In a special preview of this weekend’s Moyers & Company, poet Christian Wiman reads an excerpt from an essay he wrote for the Winter/Spring issue of the Harvard Divinity Bulletin about living with cancer, finding faith and being sustained by family.

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  • RestoreAmericaj

    Amazing interview, Spiritual beyond belief for most, But welcoming for others.

  • Cfg882

    Just watched the program described, very calming and thoughtful and honest.

  • Thaddeus

    In the voice of the observer and the experience of the participant
    Christian Wiman spoke with clarity to the conflict he and we engage within our lives to comprehend to intuit,to experience,to feel the essence of the mystery we call God.
    His humility and peaceful expression in describing the experience of his journey,his trials,his tribulations, inspired moments ,fears and doubts give me a strong sense that he is at peace with the “God” of his understanding and the value of letting go.
    His soulful expression and presence speaks far beyond his thoughtful words to the presence of Spirit within him.

  • brad simmons

    brother mine…you are to poetry what michael brown, author of the “presense process” is to prose….check it out.

  • Mbracediversity

    Moyers finds the most unique and compelling guests: Winans is no exception. Profound and moving, it left me searching for his poetry…and thinking about God.

  • Little Brother

    Many thanks to Wiman and Moyers for sharing the experience of this terrible disease.  Out of affliction has the soul become thirsty for the living God.