Archive for November, 2009


giving thanks

My last posting was November 18. I talked a lot about time…my sense of time as a cancer survivor in her 7th decade. Whew! I made it through the looking glass and I’m none the worse for wear. In fact, maybe a bit better for the wear…a little more polished. This birthday may have been one of the most outstanding of my life. Many spots and splashes of love from family and friends, old and new…splashes of love like stars sparkling in a small universe of God-lights. It was memorable.

Sometimes I’ve gone to bed asking God if s/he loves me. Of course, I knew and know the answer, but I  needed to ask the question, just out of habit in the same way that sometimes we ask our spouse, our lover: “Do you love me?” A tiny bit of assurance after a long day’s work or a difficult day’s successful encounters. I am so incredibly human, so flawed, a sprouting mustard seed, a bird with big wings to grow into. Made in God’s image. That is a comforting thought.

It is 1:30 A.M. I’m looking back over the hills and valleys of the past 12  days looking for meaningful events to share with you. There was the evening my friend and his young family came with cookies to celebrate my birthday. How can one be sad in the presence of young, vibrant, loving children dancing and prancing about—their laughter, drawings, paper snowflakes—all love gifts…God-gifts of God-light.

There were many messages from here and there—affirmations. People appearing like open pages in a children’s pop-up book. One person  from so long ago, a fellow cancer survivor saying a private hello on face book, just because he’d read this blog and the years melted away. That was awesome, as the kids like to say.

Dinner with good friends…always a nice treat, and I had several of them, each very loving and memorable. But lunch with my daughter at a wonderful French restaurant, just she and I, cozy and sweet was very special. If you are pining away for quiche or crepes…or Buche de Noel…be good to yourself…enjoy those things at a good French restaurant. You will be pleased. The French know how to prepare foods for gastronomic happiness.

Thanksgiving day came soon after my birthday, and I had much to be thankful for. There is one little story of losing and finding my wallet that I will save for a separate posting, as it deserves it’s own place. Thanksgiving day 2009 was the first major holiday that my biological family and I faced without my oldest sister, who died in December of 2008. And it was the first major holiday that my partner and I faced since the bad old times of 2008/09. They say the first year is the hardest. I expect that is true.

As my dwindling family and I sat down to eat on Thanksgiving day, one of my young, great nephews announced that he had written a prayer of thanksgiving and would like to read it. He is a very sweet and sensitive boy. As it turned out he was overcome with stage fright and couldn’t read it, so his dad read it for him. The prayers of the young and sincere are touching in their innocence. This prayer was lovely but was missing a couple of adjectives in one of the points of gratefulness, so there were stifled chuckles from some and unabashed laughter from the younger sibling who sat directly across from the author of the thanksgiving prayer. Embarrassment, humiliation the color of red beets! My heart went out to him because I have been in that same spot as a child with adults laughing and smiling. It took many grown-up decades to really understand that they were not laughing at me, but expressing, however awkwardly, their enjoyment of my child-self singing a song, or telling a story, or reciting some verse or another. Those early experiences of perceived ridicule formed parts of my character for a very long time.

I sat at the table for what seemed like way too many minutes, feeling for him, wanting to comfort him…cover him with this understanding I now have. I sat until I couldn’t sit any longer, asked God to give me words and knelt down next to him, his red-beet face in his hands. I don’t know if what I said helped him or not. He is a very shy boy and way too sensitive for the competitive, heart-breaking world we live in. I was thankful for the glimpse of his soul that came my way to stay. I will always feel connected to this little boy from a foreign land. What I witnessed will be sacred to me. Maybe some day he will know that and be glad, as I was glad for the rather few adults in my growing up life who made a place for me, a very different sort of duck, in what I thought was a world of swans.


flying around corners

Since I last posted I have flown to many places in circular patterns as well as straight lines and U-curves. Last weekend I flew (actually) to New York for a meeting of the MennoNeighbors, a group of Mennonites currently putting our heads together to work toward securing the next step our denomination must take in social justice: inclusivity and the embrace of diversity. It was a fine weekend, met very interesting and wonderful people. Didn’t have time to see much of Manhattan, but we got a lot done (I think). Then flew home and attended a lovely party with new friends. Yesterday, I crashed under the weight of water logged wings.

Today I literally turn the corner on safety and turn 71. Those who are yet healthy and under the age of 60 may not understand what I am about to share concerning corner-turning, but hang in there with me and time-travel a bit.

My 70th birthday was bittersweet. We thought we were going to be received into membership at the church we were attending. It was to be a prodigal son  sort of thing. Dear old friends were invited to attend and were just waiting for the date to be declared. My  singer/songwriter  friend was going to play and sing for us. Significant persons in my encounter with faith were looking forward to being there with us. After 3 decades in the desert, this was an important event of covenant renewal for us. Of course, as we know, it never happened. Instead, we had some people come and celebrate my 70th birthday, including one dear old friend who flew in from Albuquerque. It was an amazing evening. On the other side of this movie screen, I was recovering from a Rituxan infusion  (lymphoma maintenance treatment), feeling ill and heart-broken. That was 70 for me…a little formidable but a cornerstone of age that I managed to slip through with more or less dignity.

This year, I turn the corner and face the east, the road to 80. There is no stopping it. The years go so quickly and cancer patients all know that time becomes a different entity in the remission stage(s). For me, it is not a loss of youth, it is an anxiety about time itself…time to do as much as I can to make a difference everywhere I go…to leave a legacy that is positive and helpful, especially to my daughter, partner and all those whom I have loved, love and maybe love me too. But even more than that—to leave the spot of the world that I stand in better off than when I arrived—better off because I chose to struggle toward wholeness without holding back. Sometimes that looked foolish to me as well as to others, but I never had a real choice. It wasn’t heroic. It was just an energy seemingly written into my DNA, completely outside voluntary action. Completely intuitive. I take no credit. It just was what it was. Chemotherapy changes DNA. Mine did in some respects, but not in this one. Praise God!

This is a sad time of year, and it is nearly Advent. I am mourning losses of my own and that of persons who have touched my life and now are gone. This includes all persons I’ve known who have died of terminal illness as well as those gone through an accident of timing. They all live in my heart. The first is my sister, who died last year of lymphoma at almost 81, 2 days before Christmas. She was like a mother to me. I talk to her often and think she is waiting for me somewhere in time and sacred space. This is a comforting thought. I am young and old at the same time because I got such a late start at 40. My young friends don’t understand my old heart and some of my old friends do not understand my young heart, but if I walk along with Jesus—the premier young/old, male/female one, I just feel like me and that is the best place to be…walking along the Sea of Galilee with all the others.

So I gather myself together, dry my wings off and prepare to circle the sky with wings of prayer. I am the Sacred Bird of the North, made in God’s image and preparing to join the great procession of Sacred Birds when called…but for now, I have so much more to do…so much more of Galilee to walk. May God grant me time enough to die with no regrets at all.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow….

I want to walk as a child of the light. I want to follow with Jesus…


preparing to take off

Last post, I was a new bird on a new wire. Today, I am 3 % less new, but getting plenty weary of wire sitting. I am preparing to fly once again. Beware: bird leaving wire and heading out. Remaining birds wave good bye and promise to keep me in their prayers. That’s how it goes, isn’t it? Much easier to pray for someone than actually touch them. I don’t believe God intended us to sit on wires. I believe God makes circles and invites us to make them too. I like circles…always have. They are so lovely…big ones, small ones and everything in between.

Soon I will trip the 70th wire and turn 71. Time to fly. Like my friend, bigvoice, I’ll be looking for the blue above the cloudy sky. Sometimes it takes a leap to find you still have wings. Spread them wide and fly great big circles in that great blue sky…at least once in a while….

Sacred Bird of the North


New bird on the wire.

Have you ever noticed how birds flock to power lines and sit close together like little teapots waiting to be poured? I don’t know the ornithological reason why they do this, but as a human, I find it a delightful spectacle…a performance of sorts, just for me. I have imagined many reasons and usually fall back on the visual fact of so many birds content to share their space. No one is squawking about too much or too little, too loud, or too quiet. No, they are all sharing the wire and evidently getting something good from doing so. I am limited and do not understand. I am bound to personify the spectacle…all these birds are getting along—they are birds of a feather flocking together—members of the same club. No one is excluded. I see this and  wish we humans could enjoy that harmony.

God’s children were meant to have harmony, but do not know how to get there without letting go of ego interests. “How can I be myself if I let go of myself?” This is a question most anyone could easily ask.  It ‘s a topic for another blog. This time I just want to talk about the wire and the birds.

When a new bird comes to sit, the others don’t scare it away. If there’s room, the new bird finds a spot and joins the plump row of sitting birds. I love that—love to see it and wish I could have that same experience. At this point in time, I am a new bird on a new wire, but either the other birds are invisible to me, I am invisible to them, or I have cataracts and am not seeing beyond the pain that sent me to this wire in the first place. I am a new bird on a new church wire, not out of intention, but because the former church wire snapped in two and all flew flapping and squawking and circling about. Some of those birds thought I was too heavy for the wire. There is truth to that, but the greater reason for the wire breaking is something beyond:  some of them didn’t see the wind whipping up behind them because they had fluffed up way too much.

Took me a while to get to know those birds, to love and live with them on the wire. Now I have to start all over again and it seems harder than the last time. I don’t knowBird on wire why these new birds don’t see how hard it is to be a newbie. They are all good birds, but for some reason they don’t show themselves, don’t let their feathers touch mine. I am the new bird on the wire and I wish it weren’t so lonely. Last year this time, I was sitting happily on the old wire. My sister was dying and I was able to touch her feathers in a special way, because mine were touched. I am a bird on a wire, waiting for the silence to stop…waiting for the memory of loss to fade.


3 minutes of fame

I have heard it said that everyone gets 3 minutes of fame in life. I suspect this notion is an extrapolation of  the very famous, American (commercial artist turned art star—Andy Warhol, who predicted 15 minutes of fame for everyone. I have never bothered to consider this “prediction” as worthy of considering at any level, and had not until last summer when a neighbor, who is a videographer of note,  asked to interview me for a PBS program called 30 Good Minutes (formerly, the Chicago Sunday Evening Club).  The topic was to be the sharing of my faith journey. Being in the midst of the debate over our eligibility to become members of the church BD and I were attending at the time…and still being hopeful that the outcome would be positive, I accepted. By interview time, late in the summer, I was no longer hopeful and fully into recovery process, which I now consider an encounter with post traumatic stress. A promise is a promise and I like to keep the ones I make, so I went ahead. (I am thankful that all but one of the tearful episodes were edited out.)

On the appointed day, he arrived with lights, camera, cords, microphone pick-up and all sorts of  equipment. I took a deep breath and the camera rolled. The interview lasted for about an hour and a half, but with his skill, patience and artful editing, the end result was the 3 minute Faith Journey clip slated for the beginning of the show.  So, on Sunday, November 1, 2009 my soul and I were live on TV: I had  3  minutes of fame and then it was over. But if you missed it and would like to see it you can at  Click here for a direct link to me.

I am a bird on a wire.

Bird on wire

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November 2009

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