Monday, December 12, 2011

Grief and Grace

 Today and tomorrow, it becomes undeniably real.

I'll be back, hopefully with stories of mercy and grace.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

In the Hospital With My Wrong Mind

"It makes me appreciate how wonderful a fully functioning brain is—and what we take for granted." --anonymous professor, ABA expert
So I had a few extra-curricular adventures after surgery.

I remember very clearly after surgery, I think they were trying to get me to urinate, and I was telling the nurses that it was of no use because I "I know too much." I was trying to tell them they could not use ABA on me because I knew too much about it. I also insisted that they call Dr. Melville and he could tell them all about what I was trying to say (apparently I was aware that I was not sounding too clear-headed).

ABA, or Applied Behavior Analysis is a psychology practice that is often used to treat autistic children. And to train dogs. It is a very complicated field of study and I surely don't know too much about it! But that is what got stuck in my head and it continued to give me problems for most of the time I was in the hospital.

My supervisor had stopped by to visit the afternoon of the surgery and I carried on a perfectly sane conversation with her. A couple of hours later when two friends who've known me for a long time stopped by, I was back to insisting I knew too much about ABA and they just couldn't use it on me. My friends, knowing and loving me so well, played along and messed with me just a little bit.

People, somehow (fever and morphine, they think, is how I got the idea) I got the idea that I had "liked" something on a professor's Facebook page and all the ABA people were "liking" it after me and that every time they did that my pain increased. My oldest daughter stayed with me one afternoon (Wednesday?) and pretended to me that she was fixing everything for me. But I was still hurting so I felt like she was not doing a good job of fixing it. At one point she tried to tell me the logical truth by showing me the Facebook page but of course I would have no part of the logical truth! I was convinced I knew the truth! She, in the meantime, was worried that I might not ever get back to normal (or at least, to my previous state of normal)!

Wednesday night, they gave me medicine for nausea. At one point, my husband said he woke up and there were about six people standing over my trying to rouse me but my eyes kept rolling back in my head. Sometime after that, I remember being awake and the room was dark but the television was on. I became convinced that I had unliked all the ABA stuff to try and relieve my pain but that now the ABA people were mad because of that and they didn't know it was me who did it, but they were trying to figure it out and they were threatening to make my life miserable (when they figured out who I was).

At this time I was on the oxygen tube thing to make me breathe right and they had those leg pump things on my legs that would blow up like a balloon and then release on a regular basis. I felt like the oxygen thing was making me work too hard to breathe and something about the balloon things on my legs was making my toes hurt and I mean HURT! But I thought that was all a conspiracy of the ABA people on the TV. I kept calling for the nurse and raising all kind of heck which is so totally unlike me. I think I scared my husband that night! It was by far our worst night there.

And to make matters worse, I finally decided maybe I'd feel better if I listened to "positive encouraging KLove" on my phone. I begged my husband to get my phone and start the music but he is not too technologically advance so it was a big ordeal for me to tell him how to get it going while I was in my wrong mind! We finally got it going and he handed me my phone but I didn't believe it was really my phone so we had a little "discussion" about that and I finally shut up about it even though I did not believe it was really my phone.

Well, people, the first song to play was called "Something Beautiful" a song I have loved since I first heard it. But it has lyrics like "I know where I need to be but I can't figure out" and "I can't figure out how much air I will need to breathe" and "will ya let me drown" but the absolute worst thing for me that night was "consume me like a fire." I was nuts! And I thought the radio was playing these songs because no one liked them and I had to "like" them to make them stop playing and to make my pain go away!

It was at this point that I called on God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost to please help me (not that I hadn't prayed before, but I was desperate now and I knew I could do nothing to help myself). I finally settled down and the morning came and after that, things seemed to get much better. That would have been Thursday morning. I did not go home until Monday.

The funny thing was, up until sometime Saturday, I still believed in my head that when I got myself out of that hospital bed and home to my laptop, I was going to PROVE to all these people that Facebook and the ABA people really were making me have more pain. I had shut up about it because it was clear everyone thought I was delusional but I just knew I could prove it!

Things kind of started unraveling when one of the professors called to check on me and laughed when she said she guessed they'd better not send the ABA expert to the hospital to visit me. It wasn't until another day or so when it dawned on me that he was not the professor whose Facebook page had caused me trouble. I would not have been scared for him to come visit. I realized he didn't even have a Facebook page! Then I realized the guy whose page I thought was causing me all the pain was not an ABA guy! And then I knew he did not have a Facebook page either! And slowly, slowly, my right brain began to return to me and boy was I ever happy to see it!

Lyrics to "Something Beautiful"

In your ocean, I'm ankle deep
I feel the waves crashin' on my feet
It's like I know where I need to be
But I can't figure out, yeah I can't figure out

Just how much air I will need to breathe
When your tide rushes over me
There's only one way to figure out
Will ya let me drown, will ya let me drown

Hey now, this is my desire
Consume me like a fire, 'cause I just want something beautiful
To touch me, I know that I'm in reach
'Cause I am down on my knees, I'm waiting for something beautiful
Oh,Oh,Oh something beautiful

And the water is risin' quick
And for years I was scared of it
We can't be sure when it will subside
So I won't leave your side, no I can't leave your side

Hey now, this is my desire
Consume me like a fire, 'cause I just want something beautiful
To touch me, I know that I'm in reach
'Cause I am down on my knees, I'm waiting for something beautiful
Oh,Oh,Oh Something Beautiful
Oh,Oh,Oh Something Beautiful

In a daydream, I couldn't live like this
I wouldn't stop until I found something beautiful
When I wake up, and all i want i have
You know it's still not what i need something beautiful

Hey now, this is my desire
Consume me like a fire, 'cause I just want something beautiful
To touch me, I know that I'm in reach
'Cause I am down on my knees, I'm waiting for something beautiful
Oh,Oh,Oh something beautiful

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Adaptation and Reflection

I really enjoyed getting out in the fresh air today and taking pictures.

I'm calling this one adaptation. I was going to call it something like "ensnared" or "codependent" but I decided I wanted to keep a positive focus!

It just turned out that I was in the right place at the right time for this photo. We were just about to leave when I spotted the reflection of the bridge in the water and wandered over to check it out. 

It seems I was in the mood for reflective photos today! We had a little cool spell and my youngest daughter and I decided we wanted to get out and get some fresh air. We got a late start, we didn't get to the park till around 4, but it turned out to be a great time to be there taking photos because of the good light at that time of day.

I really think this is one of my favorite images from the day. There is something about the bulbous shape of the tree and its reflection, along with the red of the leaves.

Reflections, reflections! My sister says she sees Sasquatch over there in the background! 

Another calming image of a calming place for me to be. I have not been here since I went with my nephew in December of 2009 to take pictures. I suppose it would do me good to remember this resource I have in my own backyard! 

Maybe times like these, where you can walk in a peaceful place and see nature's beauty and be distracted from your own problems, maybe these are healing times and should be embraced as snugly as that vine is embracing the tree in that first picture!  I knew there was something important in that picture for me! 

Oh how loving is the embrace of grace!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Already, Part of My Biography

I haven’t read the little book yet, but already it is part of my biography. 

I honestly think part of the reason I am writing so much about all of this is that I want a record of the process. I think there may be times when my memory can’t be trusted but if I've left a few words here and there, maybe I will have a better understanding of what happened when I get to the other side. Of this particular trauma, I mean, not that other "other side"! Not yet, I suddenly hope!

I am in a place I have never been before. That alone is exciting, crazy as it sounds. I feel the need to act more Zennish and to focus only on what lies in my path right here, right now and to take one day at a time. When I told my spiritual director this, she asked how that felt. It feels like where I need to be, it feels like it's really true that "It's all grace." It feels like a pretty good place to be.

One huge thing that helps me to deal with this threat is the ability not to jump too far ahead, or when I have jumped there, the ability to bring myself back to what I am actually facing right now. And maybe also the ability to recognize the different ones in me and to understand where they are coming from when they are acting out, and then having the presence of mind to take care of whoever is the needy one at the moment.

There are also other parts of me who are having a field day with all this. The curious one and the writer one are in cahoots, observing how this is going to transpire and writing some of it down for future reference. What a fantastic opportunity! Who knows what I'll do with all this info but it pleases me to gather it.

In other news, I’ve gotten a majority of the things done that are on my list of “things to do before I go.” I wanted to call the list “things to do before I die” but I leave that paper lying loose on my desk and I didn’t want to upset anyone or make them worry about my sense of humor! So next week, I will finish up what remaining loose ends there are and I will go to the hospital to preregister.

In the meantime, I am trying to resist the urge to google about it. One of the things I read was this memorable quote and a veiled warning: "Sticking to a colon surgery diet can be difficult; however, not following the proper instructions can leave you feeling sick and in pain."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bubbling and Boiling

I watched my eggs boiling for egg salad (1) as I stirred cocoa, sugar, butter and milk to make one of my all-time favorite comfort foods, boiled cookies (2). Later, I stirred the makings of taco soup (3), waiting not so patiently for it to boil. As I watched the pot, I daydreamed about other things I have waited to boil in this big pot, things like gumbo (4) and mayhaw jelly (5), which, when it boils is one of the most beautiful colors I think I have ever seen.

Five foods- that was the prompt we were supposed to be writing about. And so I have done that, right here, right now.  But the back-story bubbling beneath the surface is the wonder about the things that are brewing in me. I would most like to describe it as a quickening (which seems like an old-fashioned, spiritual word), with the potential for growth. How will I be changed by the diagnosis? What might come of the time I will be recuperating? 

Already I feel a sense of gratitude and grace, and love. I am working on attentiveness.

These are the kind of things that serve as markers in one’s life. Right now I’m just watching the bubbling, waiting to see what all comes up to the surface.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tattoo Removal

We had a guest speaker/singer in church today. He spoke about asking God to give us the grace to handle a thousand things. There was no way he could have known that I’d recently started reading a book I’ve had for months called A Thousand Gifts, where the author set out to make a list of a thousand graces from God’s hand. She writes beautifully of how that process changed her life. There was no way the speaker could have known I’d decided to make my own list of 1000 graces and that the first thing on my list would be the biggest thing of a thousand things I have to handle in my own life right now.

He spoke of God’s refreshing, and told us to ask for it. He said that God is as concerned with our refreshing as he is with our victory. There is no way the speaker could have known how long I have lived so close to the edge in my life, how stressed and worn out I am, how desperately I need refreshing, and how I’d decided colon cancer was the way God was going to provide refreshing for me. I mean, you know, 4-6 weeks of recovery time is also 4-6 weeks of time to be refreshed and renewed. My main task will be to rest and let my body be healed. What better time for a soul to also heal and be refreshed?

One of the speaker’s gifts is the ability to pray for people and usually after the service he will pray for anyone who would like to be prayed over. I stood in line and waited my turn. When I got to him, he told me that I had tattoos that God wants to remove, labels that are no longer appropriate to who I am. He says God wants to put a new tattoo on my forehead, a new label. 

There is no way that man could have known that I have been laughing at the irony of me getting a tattoo one day (they will tattoo the cancerous spot the day before the surgery so that the surgeon can find it) and having it removed the very next day, when they remove the tattoo AND the cancerous spot. I am very reassured by knowing God wants to remove my tattoos. I am grateful. 

He also mentioned that I carry a lot of pain and that God wants to take that too. I’ve been thinking about this one a while myself, believing it is time for me to lay some things down and quit identifying myself by my pains. He said there should be none of this talk of me saying God should not have to take my pain. I think there is also a message for me in that statement. I know that in dealing with the colon cancer I will have to allow others to carry part of my burden. I am accustomed to being the strong one. I will have to learn to accept my weaknesses.

I often say that I have grown up hearing about God’s grace but I struggle to understand it. And I have been told God loves me but I struggle with that too. Today I figured something out. God is not chasing me down to tell me what all I have done wrong in my life. He is pursuing me because he loves me, because he wants me to be in his company. I truly believe God is using colon cancer in my life to refresh me and to love me. I am grateful. Colon cancer will be number one on my list of a thousand gifts.

But for God’s grace, there is no way that man could have known any of the things he said that were hitting my heart with the precision of a laser.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Problems on the Path

So I was five years late in getting my colonoscopy. I don’t know why I had put it off but I did. And a week after I got it down, the nurse from the doctor’s office called wanting to know if I could come in the next day to speak with the doctor. I’m no dummy. I knew she wasn’t calling me in to brag on my fiber intake. 

She had removed six polyps and part of a seventh one. The seventh one was, is, cancerous. It is in my lower colon. The plan is to go in there and remove the polyp and a small section of the colon on either side of the polyp and then to reconnect the hose, er, I mean colon. 

We went to see the surgeon yesterday. He explained everything and then said he was going to be out of town for two weeks. He said he would be happy to do the surgery, and it would not hurt to wait but if I wanted to go ahead with someone else that would be fine too. It really fits my schedule better to wait. That will give me time to get all my loose ends tied up at work. So we are aiming at doing the surgery the first, or preferably, the second week of November. 

I am learning some things already from all of this:

First of all, never underestimate the value of having that second pair of ears with you. I sort of expected to hear what I heard, but when the word cancer came out of the doctor's mouth, my brain sort of keeled over and fainted on me. I'm going to call that experience "brain drop." I heard my voice telling the doctor that I needed to be writing some of that stuff down and saw my hand reaching into my purse for a pencil. She stepped out and got me a card to write on and then offered to write it for me. But I needed to write it down, to have the words flow on paper into my brain like a road map marking an uncertain path. The doctor's small offering of a card and the nurse's hand resting ever so briefly on my shoulder as she left me in the room to wait for the doctor scared and informed me. It is amazing what people can tell you with no words.

Second of all, don't underestimate your enemy. The doctor talked like it was just a matter of snipping the offending part out and hooking the ends back together. I heard that and thought, wow, day surgery! She never said anything about if the offending part was too close to the ending part, you'd have to get a colostomy (and my offending part is in my lower colon). Also, when she said I needed a cat scan and blood work for the surgeon, she stopped short of saying "so we can see if there are any more cancer cells in your abdominal cavity."

Thirdly, be prepared for surprises, and know what they are supposed to be doing to you. If you are not sure, check with your doctor. Today I had blood work done and I was supposed to go to radiology to get my cat scan "kit". The nurse in the doctor's office had laughed and said she wasn't sure what that would be. I laughed too, and said "it's not like they will have me drinking barium." Well, guess what? First, they had rescheduled my cat scan ("probably due to "pre-cert" issues. That's usually what it means.") which upset me greatly. Surprise! Then she came out packing a jar of barium for me to drink before the test. Surprise again! Nobody in the doctor's office said anything about drinking barium. I don't like surprises. The good news is that I have until Sunday night to make friends with my "surprise". I called the office and they confirmed that I was supposed to be drinking barium.

Fourthly, one can't be a wuss when one is a cancer patient. One must learn to speak up for oneself. (Cyn, not a word!)

There is more but it's not quite all organized yet. I am sure I will learn more as I walk this path. I do want to write more about this but it is kind of hard because you know, even though the prognosis looks good, I really don't know how things will end up.

I go for the cat scan Monday morning. They do not expect any problems to show up there. Let's pray that their expectations are correct.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Sense of Place

This is another of the prompts our blogging/writing tribe/group is using to inspire us to be more regular in our blog posts. I sort of skipped over the one for last week, which was "Seven Needs." Maybe I will get back to it later. I do have a few things in mind. But for now, here is my response to the prompt of "Six Places."

  1.  On the deck of a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. There is no visible land, only water. And then you realize, there are no birds flying. And even though the ship feels huge, a whole independent world unto itself, in the grand scheme of things, you look out on all that water and you feel so tiny standing there on the deck of your "huge" ship.
  2. The little open air Episcopal chapel down in Big Lake with the gothic arched windows the Episcopals seem to favor so much, with the wooden floors and the crosses hung on the few walls there are and the pond just off to the right and the Gulf of Mexico beyond that.
  3. The front porch on the land where my grandparents lived, the “little house” or their house, it doesn’t matter, the front porch was the place where the visiting was done and the setting of the sun was watched.
  4. The sanctuary that is inside me no matter where I actually am. Lately it has been so very hard to find but it is always there. It seems that road must be travelled slowly. 
  5. In the presence of another who sees the seedier parts of me and is not alarmed, surely that too is a real place, a comforting place. 
  6. The bosom of Abraham, the hands of God, those are real places too. 
  7. Dry Creek Baptist Encampment, where I lived out so much of my spiritual growth. I went there as a child, worked there as a teen, and returned as an adult to shepherd little elementary school girls through a week of camp. This is where I met Sinclair, one of my favorite campers of all time. Sinclair had serious mental health issues and the most winsome smile you’ve ever seen. I  wonder tonight what kind of place she is in.
Watching the Brown-eyed Girl Count Fireflies
(for Sinclair)

She has seen spiders
in her breakfast bowl

where mother saw grits,
and terror in her daughter’s eyes.

There were snakes slithering forward,
threatening to swallow her whole
as mother moved to offer comfort.

Moments later, the child 
asks for red jelly.
To make a smiley face on her grits.

Now she counts fireflies, their stochastic
blinks dancing in unsteady rhythm
with the neurons in her brain.

When music breaks the quiet of night,
her attention shifts. She searches to see
what kind of bird sings in darkness, why

her notes tremble and swell.

(I've written about Sinclair before, and posted this poem here before as well. I don't know what brought her and the poem so strongly to my mind tonight. Well, I do have my suspicions, but I am not quite ready to talk about it!)

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Big Girl Procedures (Old People Procedures?)

Today I had my first screening colonoscopy. I fretted a bit about having to do it but everybody I talked to said it would be a relatively easy procedure. I suppose it was. But today I learned something about myself that I did not know.

In the course of my lamenting and kvetching to a therapist friend about having the procedure done, I mentioned my fear of undignified situations, and how, for me, an undignified situation equals being out of control, and how being out of control means I feeling vulnerable and I don't like feeling vulnerable. He suggested I think of myself going into the procedure as a child and knowing the adults were there to take care of me. 

We were sitting in the room where they take your blood pressure and double check your meds and all and I hear the man next door telling the nurse he woke up too early last time he had the procedure. I thought that was no big deal, it meant he got to go home earlier. But no, he meant he woke up during the procedure! I silently cursed the man for putting that thought in my head. 

I really was not as nervous as I thought I'd be but when they wheeled me out to go to the operating room and left me lying on the gurney for a minute or two, I thought about the child (little girl) trick. So there I am, a fifty-something grown woman without her glasses on lying flat on her back pretending to be a little girl. And all these faceless adults I was hearing as they whooshed by me were there to take care of me. I couldn't see too much but I could hear plenty. I heard water running and a sucking sound and thought, to my horror, that they were working on someone just off to my left, with only a curtain separating us! But it was just a woman washing out a big tub.

I shrunk, lying there pretending to be a little girl. I could not tell what was going on, could not see who was coming up behind me and let me tell you.The longer I laid there, the more nervous I got. I learned pretty quickly that my little girl self is far less trusting of people than my adult self. She wanted to high-tail it out of there! I had to go back to being my adult self and I had to reassure my little girl self that everything really was going to be all right. In spite of her not trusting that situation and wanting to leave, my little girl self is tough and scrappy, but she does not like to be cornered into situations where she has no control. Sometimes more so than my adult self, I believe.

So they wheeled my adult self into the operating room and started the procedure. I woke up during the procedure! My little girl self must have been the one quietly watching the screen while my adult self was trying to hear what they were saying. I could not make out the words. The screen was quite interesting, I saw this loop thing but then it started getting uncomfortable and I mentioned to them that I was awake. They said they would give me more medicine and they did. And the next thing I knew they were talking to me again. Now I wonder if that was not some drug-induced dream but I think it was real. And I think part of the reason I was so calm was because my friend Cyn said next time she had hers done, she was not going to take any meds and was going to watch the whole thing. I figured I was awake, so I may as well watch at least a little bit of the show. Weird, huh?

I think the loop thing I saw was the tool they use to cut polyps. I had several of them cut off and one partially cut off because they could not get to all of it due to where it was located. So, yeah, I am waiting for a call about the biopsy and praying all will be clear. 

And now, what I really want to know. Do any of you have other versions of yourself that you are aware of that help through certain things? Or am I the only one? 

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Eight Fears

Okay, another one for a prompt from my tribe of blogging friends!

Eight Fears:

I fear (in no particular order):
  1. Choking
  2. Rats and mice-I was told last week they are really two different animals but in my mind they are all the same. It is that long skinny that really grosses me out. We have a rat lab in our psychology department. I have to order the baby rats. When they arrive (usually via a slightly chubby and out of breath UPS man who has traipsed across campus carrying this box of critters), if the right people are there, they come out of their office and coo over the baby rats. Occasionally they open the box and pick the rats up and cuddle on them. I try to stay pretty much out of sight when this is going on. And I am careful about admitting how scary they are to me because this is the psych dept and if you let them know you are scared of something, they will try to desensitize you to your fear. I don’t want to be desensitized because that would mean I would have to come into close contact with a rat.
  3. Anger
  4. Unhappiness-I don’t want any of my family to be unhappy and I spent years trying to keep that from happening. Guess what? It did not work.
  5. Spiders
  6. Being rear ended-There was a time frame of about a year and a half where I was rear ended THREE times. The last time totaled my car and I had to be hauled away in an ambulance. They were trying to lift me out of the car and my dress got hung on something and was holding me back and Lord, I thought they were going to pull my dress off my body. I can now give a really mean "get off my a**" look if someone is following me too closely. It always impresses me when they clearly get my message and back off a bit because I am not usually a commanding person.
  7. Ambulance rides-They strapped me down too tight and I had to threaten to go crazy on them if they did not at least loosen the strap around my feet a teeny tint bit. I must have been convincing because they loosen the strap. A teeny tiny bit.
  8. Undignified situations-such as being pulled out of a car by hunky ambulance men and getting hung up, making it look like you were almost too heavy for them to lift.
Wow, I made it to eight! I might not have been finished with my list!

One of my bigger, most serious fears (that I am working on) is the fear of there not being enough for me. I am trying to break the mindset of thinking in terms of scarcity. I am trying to call forward my own sufficiency (and what I am talking about is way bigger than money).

That makes me think of this quote I copied from someone else's blog a while back:

Lynne Twist wrote this, it's from her book The Soul of Money--

"For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is "I didn't get enough sleep." The next one is "I don't have enough time." Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying that we don't have enough of. . .We don't have enough exercise. We don't have enough work. We don't have enough profits. We don't have enough power. We don't have enough wilderness. We don't have enough weekends. Of course, we don't have enough money--ever.

We're not thin enough, we're not smart enough, we're not pretty enough or fit enough or successful enough, or rich enough--ever. Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we're already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds race with a litany of what we didn't get, or didn't get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to the reverie of lack. . .What begins as a simple expression of the hurried life, or even the challenged life, grows into the great justification for an unfulfilled life. . .

We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mind-set of scarcity. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. By sufficiency, I don't mean a quantity of anything. Sufficiency isn't two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. It isn't a measure of barely enough or more than enough. Sufficiency isn't an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough.

Sufficiency resides inside of each of us, and we can call it forward. It is a consciousness, an attention, an intentional choosing of the way we think about our circumstances." ---Lynne Twist

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday 09/28/11

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Nine Loves

  1.   Getting outside with my camera 
  2.   Creating my thangs
  3. The land up where my grandparents’ lived (the “country”)
  4. My family
  5. Time alone, solitude
  6. Sunday services at my church
  7. Reading and learning about stuff that catches my attention on the internet  
  8. Tending the fire in the fireplace in winter
  9. Rocking in my rocking chair. It soothes me. Sometimes I don’t have to be in a rocking chair to enjoy rocking-my professor friends tease me about it, one says I am “on the spectrum." I'm never really totally still, come to think of it. Even when I drive, I am making circles with my thumb on the steering wheel. . .wait, this is not the "secrets" post. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dadburn Mountains, Horizons and Never Arriving

Yeah, I know I just put this "thang" up in yesterday's post! The message is still very important to me, but there was a nagging problem with it. I couldn't quite put my finger on what was bugging me. After reading this essay (go read it, I love it, isn't it the most beautiful thing?), I was able to do a better job of figuring out what it was about my words that sort of bothered me.  

The problem for me is the words “you are being made whole.” They imply that there is a place to which I will arrive which will be better than where (or who) I am now and when I have arrived there, I will be something, which to me equals something like this: if I am now broken and then eventually made whole, then I am worthy. But if I am presently broken, then I must now be an old piece of crap.

When I read, “I will not get to the mountains. I’ve been told as much, but you can’t swallow this kind of knowledge until you have some perspective,” I thought of a friend who often reminds me that we never truly arrive. And just now, in writing this, I am also reminded of my favorite quote from photographer W. Eugene Smith, “Never have I found the limits of the photographic potential. Every horizon, upon being reached, reveals another beckoning in the distance. Always, I am on the threshold.” All of these messages are hard words for me to swallow.

Oh how I have complained about always being on the threshold. How hard I have worked at trying to figure out how to arrive faster so that I can finally let go and sit down and quit struggling! And yet, here is the “why” of why I can’t put too much stock in my “message” that “though I am broken, I am being made whole.” If I am spending too much time looking forward to being made whole, then I am not spending enough time looking at the ground that is beneath my feet right now. It is as he says, “If you can’t reach the mountains, you might as well get to know the trail.” And if I am not aware of the ground that I am presently standing on, I am not living, I am wasting my travels.

Wow. Just think, if one can accept that you will not reach the mountains, or that you will not arrive, or that there will be another horizon, one can quit struggling so hard. Whoa. That is a whole 'nother level of enlightenment for me! I'll have to think some more on that one!

(I've written before about Eugene Smith's quote and what it means to me, griped about never "arriving," about always having another horizon. Check it out if you are interested: Blooming Late, It's Better Than Not Blooming At All and Walking To Paradise Garden, One Day at a Time. What a blast from the past!)

Monday, September 12, 2011


So, my little tribe of blogging buddies is participating in a challenge that asks you to list ten secrets. At first, I decided I was not going to participate, but I have been so touched by the posts I’ve read so far that I hate not to join in. I think I’ll write a little story and you can glean whatever secrets you can from what I write (it’s no secret that I sometimes make up my own rules for these things, and also no secret that I tend to keep my secrets close to my vest, which can be a good thing, as Rach pointed out, but also a bad thing.) Well, turns out, I might start my story out with a secret. . .

A few years ago, I discovered that one of the Episcopal churches in town offered a labyrinth walk about once a quarter. I’d read about them online and was very interested in going, so I went, by myself, to see what it was all about. The first time around I was extremely uncomfortable and self-conscious. But it turned out to be a good experience for me and so I returned several times. I even told my husband about it and he came along a few times. I enjoy it very much. Usually things will come up, nothing really earth shattering but I will journal about them afterwards. There is something about the atmosphere too. It is a cloth labyrinth and they have it in their gym. They usually have candles lit and a small altar and instrumental music or chants playing. This last time seemed to be Native American flute music.

The art work above is a result of something that came to me the last time I walked. Hebrews 11:1 is one of my favorite verses and it popped into my head as I was walking. And soon I was “hearing” this: “It is in this way that you, though broken, are being made whole.”  I have such a problem with turning on myself and thinking I am not good enough. I am getting better at being nice to myself but this was a very comforting thing to “hear.” I wrote it down in my journal afterwards. 

When I finished walking, and was out of the labyrinth looking back in, there was another thing I was “hearing.” I wrote it in my journal: 

Well, so, I’ve shared the secrets that I enjoy walking labyrinths and that I sometimes “hear” things while I am walking. 

There are some serious tensions in my home right now. I am fearful of our future. I'm tired. 

I wish I had some fun secrets to tell.

That is all.