UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Shutterstock

Welcome to the Camino de Cancer

By David Giuliano


There are all manner of caminos. The most familiar is the Camino de Santiago. It begins in France and, by various routes, leads to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in north-western Spain, where the remains of St. James are reputed to be buried. People walk it for all sorts of reasons. Some people go for the exercise and physical challenge. Others go looking for community among fellow travellers. Still, others seek healing, wisdom or spiritual meaning.

There are many pilgrimage destinations: Mecca, Machu Picchuto, Lourdes and Graceland, to name just a few. Camino de means simply  “the way” or “the road.” Not all caminos are geographical, though. Some are made almost invisibly in our inner lives.

Matthew Fox, a former Dominican priest and founder of the Centre for Creation Spirituality, described four paths or ways of the spiritual journey. The Via Positiva is the way of ecstasy, joy and delight.  The Via Creativa is the way of creativity and co-creation. The Via Transformativa is the way of struggle for justice, healing and compassion. And the Via Negativa — the way of darkness, chaos, suffering, silence, and letting go and letting be.

The Via Negativa — that sort of camino — is rarely chosen or even welcome. It comes upon us, abducts us, and we choose to walk and listen — or not. I have had cancer on and off, for more than 20 years. Right now, my cancer is, as they say, “in remission,” and I am feeling strong, healthy and happy (Read Giuliano's recent interview with Healthy Debate). But it has been both the source of suffering and a harsh teacher of wisdom. It has been unwelcome, and it has been a blessing. It comes banging on the door of my soul like a hostile stranger — an unwelcome guest. I have tried to redeem its malignant presence by walking with and by writing about this stranger. I have gained some life, wonder, wisdom and laughter along The Way. Perhaps you — or someone you love — are walking a similar path with this shadow stranger. Perhaps, we can walk together a ways.

Welcome to the Via Negativa. Welcome to the “Camino de Cancer.


Author's photo
David Giuliano is the former moderator of The United Church of Canada, an award-winning writer and author of "Postcards from the Valley: Encounters with Fear, Faith and God." He lives with his wife, Pearl, in Marathon, Ont. His blog, "Camino de Cancer," will be updated on the first Tuesday of the month.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image

Society

July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots

World

June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.

Justice

June 2017

Undocumented

by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.

World

June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.

Society

April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart

Society

March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image