It was a delight to see the total Eclipse sitting on a beach in SC with good friends. Matt Rice – age 17 took this.
Sometimes the whole prayer is
I just had my first 3 month post chemo checkup. It was supposed to be just a physical, but I’d been having some digestive problems that were similar to those I had at the start of this journey. So I got a CT scan. While it was an anxious time waiting for the results, the reassurance that the chemo did its job, and that I’m without any tumors now is great. Just great. As one of my ministers said, “sometimes indigestion is just indigestion”.
I spoke with my spiritual director about the waiting part of this journey. Feel good, something happens, worry, resolve, repeat. He suggested compassion as the center point of a see saw. One the one hand practical and legitimate worries. On the other unrealistic optimism. What connects the two? He suggested compassion at the fulcrum. Think of me as a daredevil kid, always wearing fancy shoes, on the ratty see saw below. Standing with a foot on either side of the fulcrum, holding, or trying to hold the thing in balance. Not up or down on either side, just balancing between the two extremes. That takes self-compassion, another form of self care. Also core muscles.
Dear one, let us rejoice. Let us rejoice for good news, for answers when it feels there are non. For joy and celebration, and the deep knowledge that compassion is always an ally, standing nearby, the daredevil on the playground. Blessed be.
After a busy couple of weeks at home Ken and I are now in Paris for our anniversary trip. Over the 2 weeks before we left Nathan had 2 planned infusions (yea that means 6 months have gone by with no problems) a few MRIs to check on things (hours and hours) SAT, ACT (both college entrance exams for folks who are lucky not to know) and a few small medical things for me. I’ve also returned to my internship and am loving renewing my connection to River Road Unitarian Universalist congregation and the staff there, with renewed energy and passion for ministry. Nathan has started AP history summer school and is really liking his teacher. He’s staying at home with a friend who is “house sitting” NOT watching him.
Ken and I flew off to Paris a few days ago and will continue to pretend we live here for another week. Trips to the cheese shop, green grocers, staying in an apartment walking distance from great museums and with a view of the top of the Eifel Tower. Wonderful meals and the gift of time. So good to feel so good!
One of our museum trips was to the fairly new Museum Quai Branley. It is a museum of African, Central America and Polynesian traditional arts. Unlike anything I’ve seen elsewhere – overwhelming in its creativity and depth of vision*.
Many rooms are filled with masks. I wondered about the meaning and use of masks in a way that seeing 5, or 10 never got me wondering. Something about seeing 100 or more lets you know their cultural importance. As I wondered the answer came to me in this, one of the few English captions. “Masks which are brought to life through dance, are go-betweens linking the land of the living and the world of the spirits… Masks are brought out for a variety of events and fulfill a range of purposes. They may inspire terror or laughter, appearing at any time .. Showing themselves in broad daylight or only after nightfall. Sometimes they are for initiated eyes only.”
Dear one – Masks to make us dance, masks to link our worlds, masks to make us laugh. Masks to help in our healing. Let it be so.
* Let us hope all were properly paid for and not just colonial takings!
It feels great to have the chemicals leaving my body and I am definitely more energetic and up beat than I’ve been. Yet my muscles aches as I’m asking them to do the things I’ve always wanted them to do. Stiff, tight, no way I could do a yoga class. But I’ll get there and I’m so happy to be back at my internship, back doing the things I love. We leave for Paris in only 3 weeks.
by Mary Oliver
Everyone should be born into this world happy
and loving everything.
But in truth it rarely works that way.
For myself, I have spent my life clamoring toward it.
Halleluiah, anyway I’m not where I started!
And have you too been trudging like that, sometimes
almost forgetting how wondrous the world is
and how miraculously kind some people can be?
And have you too decided that probably nothing important
is ever easy?
Not, say, for the first sixty years.
Halleluiah, I’m sixty now, and even a little more,
and some days I feel I have wings.
Source of love – Aspiring to have wings, at least some of the time. And for sure let me recognize those sacred moments when I have them. Amen.
This week I return to my internship. In a lot of ways it feels like the first day of school in middle school. I’m eager to go back, I know the teachers and classmates and the place, and yet I feel deeply different than I was when I left. Yes, that new clothes sparkly feeling of entry, but also knowing that this is re-entry for me. I may look the same (minus hair) but inside I’m different. I’m less innocent about health and my body and how changes can come fast and furious to me and mine. And maybe I’m more awake to equally deep spiritual realities, what my relationship to the divine looks like under duress, to the blessings of excellent pastoral care and even what my ministerial presence might look like. I’m awake to what friends and community can offer. I’m grateful for that. And I’m less naive.
We look with uncertainty
Beyond the old choices for
To a softer, more permeable aliveness
Which is every moment
At the brink of death;
For something new is being born in us If we but let it.
We stand at a new doorway,
Awaiting that which comes …
Daring to be human creatures.
Vulnerable to the beauty of existence.
Learning to love. —Anne Hillman
Dear one, please help Alexa to hold uncertainty with grace. To live a softer reality aware of changes that have come to her through her illness and that of her son. Let her know deeply the spiritual dimension of those changes while also holding onto the truth of the deep changes and losses this time has wrought. Let her internship resume with all the blessings that offers, and give her the energy and wisdom to live that internship vulnerably and fully to become the minister she seeks to be.
For months my breath has come erratically – particularly with any exertion. Again and again I was forced to stop as I walked up a hill no one else would notice was a hill – something someone else might call a slight incline. Climbing up the stairs at home would leave me breathing heavily and on the worst days even a bit dizzy. As I’ve learned with my many bouts of bronchitis, breathing isn’t optional, and making my way up hills that feel like mountains has been an exercise in patience and endurance.
I am so delighted to say that my breathing is better. I walked up a familiar hill recently – actually a real hill and didn’t need to sit down as I had the previous time going up that road. This means I’m really on the way to recovery.
“i thank You God for most this amazing” by e.e. cummings
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
I don’t know how often I’ll continue to write here, though I will update on doctor’s appointments. Silence is not bad news my friends.
Divine one – breath, just breath is enough today. Blessed be. Amen.