Thursday, July 23, 2015

Unbroken Circle

Some days I wake up in a panic that the cancer is back, my post-sleep skin wrapped in an uncommon scent, a shoulder that won't unhinge, weird tweaks that I notice. I don't think about it, so much, normally, but there has been a lot of there there lately, my gut/intuition on overdrive in my day to day life which gets me all muddled up when it comes to the inner workings of my body. I keep listening, just listening. Listening is good.

Lately I've had so many friends diagnosed w/cancer, it's overwhelming. We hold hands and walk forward, sometimes we pull each other up out of the choppy water, sometimes we rage and other times we sit quietly. But it's a gift, this presence, being able to be with another who is walking down that road. Years ago, I was lucky to be with my mom as she died. It was at the same time the worst experience ever, and yet something I would never miss. And would never miss for anyone that needed someone in that moment to hold the space. It's at the same time something you never want to experience again, and something you could never deny anyone.

The grace of a post-this-time cancer existence is like that. We shelter each other, feed each other words of solidarity, clothe each other in the warmth of friendship. Because it's the seed of that experience that cracks us open in a fundamentally life-changing way if we let it. It brings out terrifying beauty from our core. And once you've let yourself feel the depth of that change, you could never withhold that grace from another.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Make Yourself Yours

As I shuffled boxes around from room to room yesterday, it dawned on me suddenly that everything I own is finally consolidated in one space. The relics of my highschool and college years and those weird years in between owning my own home have been brought from my mother's house, my grandmother's pieces divided, the selection of things that I took from married life sit boxed and wrapped in my new home.

It's all here. All of my history and present in one place.

And as I've rifled through some of these boxes, I've pulled out old letters from friends, pictures of my much younger self, snapshots of periods of my life when I was somewhat lost and somewhat found. There are the chatty "how are things at ..." letters from my mother that wait for me, along with a cache of chosen objects of my father's that will find a place in my home.

The idea of working through these boxes is remarkably unnerving, observing the hard and the good, remembering what came before and what contributed to who I am now. Meeting that girl at 9 and 13 and 18 and 25 and 30 and loving her, all of her. It's messy to uncover a lot of things I've left boxed away for years, but it feels like something that is part of being the girl I love at 44.

Today Parker Palmer wrote a beautiful piece on loving all of ourselves, inspired by this quote by Florida Scott-Maxwell:

You need only claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and are fierce with reality.
Then he goes on to add this:
Today, at age 76, I know Scott-Maxwell got it right: there are no short-cuts to wholeness. The only way to become whole is to put our arms lovingly around everything we’ve shown ourselves to be: self-serving and generous, spiteful and compassionate, cowardly and courageous, treacherous and trustworthy. We must be able to say to ourselves and to the world at large, “I am all of the above.” If we can’t embrace the whole of who we are — embrace it with transformative love — we’ll imprison the creative energies hidden in our own shadows and flee from the world’s complex mix of shadow and light.

I'm going to spend some time with this today, thinking about how fierce with reality I can be. I feel like I am a good stretch there in my present life. Maybe digging back into my past a bit will make me even more myself, uniquely mine. 

Parker Palmer's piece is on the OnBeing site. Worth a read: