I am still cancer-free! Twenty-two months of remission now. The spot on my lung, so small it was barely visible, has disappeared. It was an infection and not a new tumor. I am so grateful. It's just in time to enjoy swimming and camping and gardening with my family, without a cloud of uncertainty hanging over my head. Just in time for Midsummer. 

Midsummer is an ancient holiday celebration to mark the time around the summer solstice. No matter when the actual solstice falls, it’s frequently celebrated from the evening of June 23 into June 24. In many parts of Europe, it is celebrated with bonfires, games, feasts, all-night parties and church services, since it is also the day many Christians commemorate John the Baptist. 

As an American, you might not remember Midsummer, but you’ve probably heard of it. Especially if you were forced to read Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in high school. You know, the one with the fairies? It’s got those fairies because that’s another huge component of the holiday. Ancient belief treated the time around the solstice as a magical time of year. On this holiday, you could make wishes or have dreams of the future. Holy wells and healing herbs became more potent than usual. If you stayed up late, you might even catch a glimpse of a fairy. Not the Disney pixie-dust kind either. A prank-playing, morally ambiguous kind of spirit. More like what we’d call a poltergeist today. 

The jury’s still out on what I believe about fairies, ghosts and things that go bump in the night. You could call me an agnostic when it comes to spooks. One one hand, there’s not a lick of evidence to demonstrate that fantastical ancient folktales are true. But on the other hand, even scientists will tell you only 4% of our entire universe is observable. And while I’m not convinced of the existence of ghosts, I believe wholeheartedly in the powers of other invisible beings: God, angels, demons, the Communion of Saints. 

That lung spot that’s not there anymore? I asked an obscure dead European emperor to help make it go away. His name is Blessed Karl of Austria. I believe that he’s in heaven, that he can hear me, that God allows him to help answer prayer as part of His divine plan, that this kind of power is available to anyone in heaven and this kind of intercession is accessible to anyone on earth. I won’t fault you if you think that’s crazy. It might be easier for you to believe in Midsummer fairies! It’s more than likely that spot on my lung was a transient infection, bound to go away no matter what. There’s absolutely no evidence that can demonstrate the existence of God or heaven, let alone the ability to communicate with folks who might be there, let alone the ability of those folks to help heal someone on Earth. It stretches the limits of the imagination. But on the other hand .... 

There are so many things we can’t see and don’t know. So many things we don’t have the tools to clearly identify, from dark matter to angels to fairies to cloudy little spots, coming and going on a CT machine. I’m not going to fault you for thinking I’m crazy. But I will warn you: be careful you don’t miss out on the things that are too small, too dark, too far away, and just too incredible to see with your own eyes. Don’t miss out on the power of prayer. Don’t miss out on the magic of Midsummer. 

“Truly, I reiterate, nothing’s small! No lily-muffled hum of a summer-bee, but finds some coupling with the spinning stars ... Earth’s crammed with Heaven, and every common bush afire with God. But only he who sees takes off his shoes. The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries.” — Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Aurora Leigh,” 1856.

Contributing Columnist

Liz Schleicher is a wife, stay-at-home-mother, writer and rare cancer survivor.

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