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......