Saturday, October 31, 2009

fog lifts slowly

This is an early morning view from the rural home of the kind Van Kirk family offering a Hallelujah Acres lifestyle kick-in-the-pants. My five days there surprised and mostly delighted me. The one glitch was a glowering "religious" bully (not any of the hosts) who pushed my boundary buttons for negative stereotypes and my own thinly veiled judgments. I was able to depart with my truth quietly communicated to those who mattered (my hosts) and with no broken bones on any account. Anger management and emotional recovery really do work. I'm human - not a doormat.

My "cleanse" was more than that: It also shook up my consciousness around how I nourish myself and live my life in general. I began juicing and eating healthfully at fifteen - but lo, the egregiously toxic sidetracks I've stumbled upon and justified over the years! And while some of the expressions of the Christian walk as exemplified by my hosts don't match mine, I took to heart those things which I would prayerfully emulate - like really trusting God.

Really. Trusting. God.

...and continuing to breathe and not beat myself up when my solar plexus tightens as I uncover that.

Food-wise, I'd always thought that vegans and especially raw foodies were whacko extremists albeit exceedingly well-intentioned. "I need my organic animal protein!" (Yeah, but a heaping plateful of high-fat cheese and refined flour crackers as a hunger-easing substitute for a colossal salad with nuts & seeds on top?). I wouldn't buy a non-organic apple from the 7-11 because of the pesticide residue, but step aside while I lunged for the chocolate chip cookies at Church coffee hour! Ok, so I'm not consistent: I'll join the human race. Sigh. Move on!

When I was hospitalized, a few squeaks slithered through about alternative healing modalities. I was eyeballs deep in a 5-alarm fire and had NO interest. Don't tell me about a liver flush when I'm hooked up and trapped in the leukemia ward! These doctors were going to heal me! And you know, the chemo worked; the blasts went away. So did my hair and my skin tone and some organ function.

Chemo doesn't heal and is a dreadful fix in the short term.

So what heals besides God? What authentic tools of self-healing may I embrace?

That's the path I'm on - to search that out, discover it, integrate it into my life. And if I feel called to join the whacko ranks, bellying up to the salad bar while I give thanks, I will do this. My dearest and most blessed friends aren't fighting over themselves to call me "normal" anyways. The "fix" of a 5-day cleanse turned into a wake-up call. Will I evangelize? No. Will I celebrate its joyous efficacy if in fact that is my gift? You betcha! (Why can't I write that without thinking of Sarah Palin?).

From a cookie-cutter hotel in Wichita, Kansas, I travel westward to Sedona and then, after a week, onward to San Rafael, California.

Got carrot juice?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

a sense of home

I am enjoying moving through a few handfuls of never say never's while on a 5-day Hallelujah Acres raw vegan and juicing cleanse/detox astride Table Lake near (but not in) Branson, Missouri. In my commitment to resurrect wholeness in my entire being, this is a crucial part of my cobweb- (and cancer-) clearing mission. Five days. You'll have roaring caffeine withdrawal headaches. Just deal with it.

I didn't expect to feel this good!

The photo is from the Rivendell Motherhouse, originally Amish built, where I savored a richly restful and joyous five days not on a vegan eating plan.... but oh how my heart sang!

As I continue on my Westward Ho! journey in places with richness commingled with poor wifi reception, I will remain few of words for now. Suffice it to say I am here in this southwest corner of the Show-Me State and will resume my road rumbles this Friday (Oct. 30th) afternoon. After three days and 1,300 miles, I'm then hoping for a week in Sedona, Arizona, where I once lived long ago. Briefly. And then....

Advent is approaching. Nerves rustle. I left, not knowing, and now I'm returning, hoping and wondering.

This morning I breathe and drink my tea.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Psalm 95:1-7

Come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving
and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the caverns of the earth,
and the heights of the hills are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands have molded the dry land.

Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee,
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.
Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!

oh come let us sing unto the Lord

God was showing off this morning in a richly expansive, post-meteor shower arising... early morning in middle Missouri, my first on the land and not merely amidst the hotel bustle of one night in St. Louis. Raucous pinks, swooning yellows and spitfire reds grew brighter and then faded. We met for Morning Prayer in the Rivendell Community House Chapel at 7:15 am. Last night we tucked away the evening with Compline at 9 pm. I am grateful to spend several days with these kind people who welcome visitors as one would welcome Christ.

Venite means come. God beckons. Sometimes God struts, like the falcon we saw at the St. David's Women's Retreat in Sewanee, Tennessee, full-breasted and proud. Now in rural Missouri, I can feel God's presence here in the earth, knowing that generations of Amish prayers infuse the land with their rich devotion. I felt its holiness beneath my feet as I walked off the 5-hour drive here from St. Louis. This is not concrete and car horns, city bustle wrangling my fritter mind and making confetti of it. The wifi connection is slow. I am slow. I let the slowness have a right to be.

The photograph is from the entryway at Bethany Spring, where I spent a blessed several days in its own quiet holiness. Its "abbess" Tracy greeted and held us, fed us, laughed with us. It was a home into which I was truly welcomed. I didn't tiptoe, not even in the Abbey worshipping and chanting amongst the Gethsemani monks. I sank into bolts of recovery, eating heartily of Tracy's delicious evening meals, pulling two 10-hour nights of soul exhausted collapse. Twice I jogged through rural landscape, past unremarkable expanse and rusty water towers.

I was welcomed and loved. I left blessing those new beloveds.

I pause between missing, being and anticipating. They coalesce when I breathe. Fritter brain notices another present moment.

The intermittent wind is bold and unapologetic.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Psalm 125 and a synopsis to date

Psalm 125

A song of ascents.
1 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.

2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people
both now and forevermore.

3 The scepter of the wicked will not remain
over the land allotted to the righteous,
for then the righteous might use
their hands to do evil.

4 Do good, O LORD, to those who are good,
to those who are upright in heart.

5 But those who turn to crooked ways
the LORD will banish with the evildoers.
Peace be upon Israel.

Blessings and love from a holy space near to the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky! I travel westward as a little pilgrim, listening as best I can to the Lord's urgings and nudgings in my life. Sometimes His Grace exceeds my fondest hopes; at other times, I step forward in faith. Did you hear me grumbling that the way wasn't clear? Yes, you did. And onward I walk as best as I can.

For my new friends, here is a synopsis. For my older friends, it's a refresher.

In October of 2008, after a month of fatigue and bizarre symptoms, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The year prior I had been given a somewhat hazy diagnosis of myelodysplasia (MDS), after several years of GP's noting my below-normal white blood counts. I was shocked and not at all pleased (quelle surprise). Hey! No fair! I ate healthy foods, took vitamins and herbs, worked hard as a self-employed investor, jogged, prayed, meditated! I worked the Steps and worshipped the Lord! Where's my medal?

Life on planet Earth is not always what one expects.

I endured two 25-day hospitalizations (called "Induction" and "Consolidation") with chemotherapy and antibiotics out the wazoo. I felt like I'd been battered by a tsunami wave, unable to sense which way was up, down or sideways. My oncology team was readying me for a 2nd Consolidation (a 3rd round of chemo) when I thought, "Wait a minute. I've been out of the hospital over a month, my hair is growing back, I'm feeling better.... and you want me back IN?" My inner guidance resounded with "No!" Beloved friends in Scotland said, "Come. Be with us, no matter what happens." I gave away most of my belongings, said goodbye to my Church and Choir, and went. I didn't know if I would live or die. "You realize you're risking a relapse?" intoned one oncologist, a bone marrow transplant specialist. "I do," I said.

I'd had enough. And so I left.

And I grew stronger very slowly while living with beloved friends in the Highlands, taking walks, worshipping, and beginning my research of alternative healing modalities. I checked in with the local medical folk, since that was a sign of sanity on my part (thunderous applause). After 3-1/2 months, it became clear that the continued availability of conventional medical care would be found Stateside rather than under the National Health Services (NHS) in Great Britain. Continuing to pursue that manner of care overseas would have bankrupted me. With a sigh I returned.

I was invited by people in north Georgia who also said, "We shall support you no matter what." With a battered heavy heart, it became clear that it was not a functional reality. The GIFTS, however, came in coming to St. David's Episcopal Church in Roswell, Georgia - and falling in love with them on my first Sunday there back in July. I joined the choir and sang to God. I found 12-Step meetings. I bought a car. With the supposed welcome extending out to a year, I worked daily as a "three-quarter time, unpaid cancer researcher" and lived simply on savings. I jogged again and joined a local gym! I even began to look at lower priced homes for sale. "I'm in the South!" I thought. And my immune system suffered silently with the growing stress of living where it became painfully clear I was in the way.

You've heard of speed dating? I was eyeballs deep in "speed discernment," praying and pondering whether to find another place to stay in The South or head back to the land of long-term friendships, support and the worship community of St. Paul's in San Rafael. Well, if God can show me how to stay alive and grow in resplendent health, He can show me how to be financially abundant enough to live in peace in expensive California!

And so I'm driving across country yet again, staying in sacred places, attuning as best I can. I'm allowing myself to take several weeks to arrive (no one is offering me serious money to arrive by a certain date). This morning I'm at a white-painted old desk here at Bethany Spring, a retreat house of the Merton Institute. There is stillness. There is quiet joy. The Gethsemani monks and the Daily Offices are a mile up the road. After Compline we're sprinkled with Holy Water.

As a child I was showered with ".....come here, I love you!" followed by SMACK! Extricating myself with God's help from the pain of that vibrational abuse is taking time. I grew up walking on eggshells. Like the story of the frog in a pan of water on the stovetop, I discovered yet again that if the heat is turned up slowly enough, I risk being boiled to death. You know the tale - put a frog in a pan of boiling water, and the frog jumps out! (Duh 101). Put a frog in a pan of cold water and slowly turn up the heat, and the frog will boil to death. I don't know if this is an urban legend or truth. I know that once I am granted awakening and ask God for help, I am charged with making the most intelligent and guided choice I can. I pray to be shown how to forgive from the heart and not just in my head.

I was held by angels in my last week in North Georgia. They know who they are!

I am held by angels today. California, here I come......

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thomas Merton's Prayer

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

- Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude" © Abbey of Gethsemani

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Still transitioning; always praying

I wanted to check in and say that I was still very much alive and in the midst of so much that blogging more than this ain't happenin' right now.

Your prayers for my Godly listening will be received with happy gratitude.

This weekend I will be on a St. David's Women's Retreat in Sewanee, TN. If I'm really "good" I'll be offline and fully present for those moments.

And then, my friends..... and then.....