I continue to wake at 1:30. This time I went back to sleep, though, and
now, I am awakened by an amazing downpour. I get up to watch and
listen. Wow!! Quite the winter storm, again!!
I have read that the ancestors try and contact us around two in
the morning, and I wonder now if that is what this waking up is, my
ancestors trying to explain why all of this is important for me.
I continue to read of new cancer treatments which will eliminate chemo.
I appreciate that there is so much research trying to eliminate what
all oncologists and people seem to agree is barbaric. I am trying to
stay with that this will ultimately allow me to be stronger, as my
white blood cells are really getting a work-out.
I again request white and red blood cell count visualization as I will
have my blood test on Friday. I am requesting early this week, getting
a head start on the whole thing. I'm beginning to figure this
whole thing out. Plan ahead! : )
So, this morning, from Pablo Neruda's "Book of Questions" -
"What is the distance in round meters
between the sun and the oranges?"
If you have an answer, let me know. I am still contemplating!!
It seems like it could be no distance, that they are one and the same,
or perhaps, a very interesting distance, full of dimension and
quivering veins. Perhaps one-half of a round meter, or the
length of a simmering meteor's rain, or a comet's boxcar and cool
My Mother's Pears
Plump, green-gold, Worcester's pride,
transported through autumn skies,
in a box marked HANDLE WITH CARE
sleep eighteen Bartlett pears,
hand-picked and polished and packed
for deposit at my door,
each in its crinkled nest
with a stub of stem attached
and a single bright leaf like a flag.
A smaller than usual crop,
but still enough to share with me,
as always at harvest time.
Those strangers are my friends
whose kindness blessed the house
my mother built at the edge of town
beyond the last trolley-stop
when the century was young, and she
proposed, for her children's sake,
to marry again, not knowing how soon
the windows would grow dark,
and the velvet drapes come down.
Rubble accumulates in the yard,
workmen are hammering on the roof,
I am standing knee-deep in dirt
with a shovel in my hand.
Mother has wrapped a kerchief round her head,
her glasses glint in the sun.
When my sisters appear on the scene,
gangly and softly tittering,
she waves them back into the house
to fetch us pails of water,
and they skip out of our sight
in their matching middy blouses.
I summon up all my strength
to set the pear tree in the ground,
unwinding its burlap shroud.
It is taller than I. "Make room
for the roots!" my mother cries,
"Dig, the hole deeper."
There is something about this poem. I always want to cry.
It is the mastery of Stanley Kunitz and the poignancy of those pears.
WAITING FOR THE WATER TO BOIL
Standing at the kitchen stove early in the morning, looking past it through an open window, I feel sleepy, unfocused, fragmented, waiting for the coffee water to boil. An impulse to pray arises in me, but the thought of God remains as vague and unfocused as I feel myself to be at that moment. I am not in the mood for words. A few months ago I was in India, and now, without consciously thinking what to do, I find myself raising my hands in front of my face and putting palms together, the way Indians do in their gesture of respect. Quickly, my emotions change. I become aware of a stir of energy throughout my body. My hands, palms still together, move downward until they are in front of my navel. I feel centered for the first time since arising, and the tree leaves outside the window begin to sparkle. During this little rite, which I have never performed before, no words pass through my consciousness. Theologically, there is either nothing or everything to say about it. Some, including myself, will call it prayer, others not. In any case, it was a short and subtle ritual of transformation.
--TOM F. DRIVER
from The Magic of Ritual
Ralph Waldo Emerson -
"A good intention clothes itself with power."
Ah, dress well today!!
A Christmas truce, a New Year's prayer
by Jim Wallis
"Silent Night," by Stanley Weintraub, is the story of Christmas Eve 1914 on the World War I battlefield in Flanders. As the German, British, and French troops facing each other were settling in for the night, a young German soldier began to sing "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht." Others joined in. When they had finished, the British and French responded with other Christmas carols.
Eventually, the men from both sides left their trenches and met in the middle. They shook hands, exchanged gifts, and shared pictures of their families. Informal soccer games began in what had been "no-man's-land." And a joint service was held to bury the dead of both sides.
The generals, of course, were not pleased with these events. Men who have come to know each other's names and seen each other's families are much less likely to want to kill each other. War seems to require a nameless, faceless enemy.
So, following that magical night the men on both sides spent a few days simply firing aimlessly into the sky. Then the war was back in earnest and continued for three more bloody years. Yet the story of that Christmas Eve lingered - a night when the angels really did sing of peace on earth.
Folksinger John McCutcheon wrote a song about that night in Belgium, titled "Christmas in the Trenches," from the viewpoint of a young British solder. Several poignant verses are:
"The next they sang was "Stille Nacht," "Tis 'Silent Night'," says I.
And in two tongues one song filled up that sky
"There's someone coming towards us!" the front line sentry cried
All sights were fixed on one lone figure coming from their side
His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shone on that plain so bright
As he bravely strode unarmed into the night.
Soon one by one on either side walked into No Man's land
With neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand
We shared some secret brandy and we wished each other well
And in a flare-lit soccer game we gave 'em hell.
We traded chocolates, cigarettes, and photographs from home
These sons and fathers far away from families of their own
Young Sanders played his squeeze box and they had a violin
This curious and unlikely band of men.
Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more
With sad farewells we each began to settle back to war
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wondrous night
"Whose family have I fixed within my sights?"
'Twas Christmas in the trenches, where the frost so bitter hung
The frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung
For the walls they'd kept between us to exact the work of war
Had been crumbled and were gone for evermore."
My prayer for the new year is for a nation and world where people can come out of their trenches and together sing their hopes for peace. We here at Sojourners will carry on that mission, and we invite you to continue on the journey with us.
The nurse from my insurance company checks in with me to see how I am doing, and usually, in my stoic way, I say all is fine, considering what I am going through, but today, I decided to say I was having a really hard time, and had actually considered quitting. She was very firm on how important continuation is, on how I have made a good start, and I need to finish it out. I guess if my insurance company doesn't mind the cost, and is paying someone to encourage me to continue, it must be worthwhile. I am trying to work on my attitude today, as I rest my very sore, for no reason that I can understand, feet. She said Christmas is the hardest time, as we are out of our routine, and, the misery of it, somehow seems more obvious. That makes sense, I guess. : )
I read an unusual book, for me, today, the autobiography of the 26 year old Valentino Rossi, possibly the best motorcycle racer racing today. The book is titled "What If I Had Never Tried It." He attributes much of his success to his mechanic Jeremy and it seems that may well be so. The attitude of Valentino and Jeremy seems, ironically enough, like what is needed to carry me through chemo. Somehow, getting through a motorcycle race and chemo seem to have similar components - attitude, vision, support of the team.
So, I am gearing up for my blood test on Friday, and my chemo treatment on Tuesday. Valentino's number is 46, and he has all sorts of superstitious rituals and such. I have my treasures that I take with me, my angel, my "Protect This Woman" shield, and my special shawl. Maybe I need a number. I think the only number that makes sense is ONE! I choose number one, and will figure out a way to have a "one" somehow emblazoned on my being. I will prepare as carefully as Rossi for a motorcycle race, or as carefully as Jerry Rice prepared for a football game. I see it is the same. Challenge Ho!! Only five more to go!!