“How long have you been cured?”

Her question caught me by surprise. We were riding on a school bus from a beauty salon to the venue for the breast cancer charity event in which we  were both modeling. I knew that she was diagnosed less than a year ago. She was self-employed and had benefitted from the charity first hand.

I answered, ‘I was diagnosed almost two years ago.’

I could have corrected her but I didn’t. She had also invited everyone to a potluck at her house. I could tell that she was having a powerful experience of belonging, being surrounded by 29 other women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer as recently as 9 months ago and as long as 19 years ago. I could also see the fear in her eyes, that she had transitioned from the shock and adrenaline rush of the active treatment stage to  “Now what?” I figured that I needed to respect her grief process and trust that she would progress in her understanding of her disease.

Her question reminded me of past experiences. I grew up in a politically and socially liberal Roman Catholic church. We didn’t talk about Hell or who was going there. We didn’t talk about “being saved”.

So the first time I was asked, “How long have you been saved?” I was similarly taken by surprise. It just wasn’t the way I was used to thinking about myself because my religious upbringing was different.

I talked to one of my colleagues and friends about this a few years ago. He is a thoughtful man, raised Lutheran who is now a practicing Unitarian. He was shocked that I had been raised without the reassurance of going to Heaven. He’d found this belief quite comforting while growing up.

Being cured and being saved are absolute positives. They can mark an end of struggle and an end to gray.

I don’t wish to disparage anyone’s beliefs as long as they don’t hurt others. My personal belief is that God is beyond my complete understanding but that I experience God is in the love people show each other, how we take care of our world, and the beauty of nature.

I don’t know if I am cured. I don’t know if I am saved.

I know that I am here.