"Once in Royal David's City, Stood a lowly cattle shed…."
I shared in my Centering Prayer group last night that I felt I'd "failed" Advent. I had begun it with earnest intention to go inwardly in preparation for the celebration of the coming of Christ. In the shorter days I began to allow a more interior beingness take place. I had even booked a 2-day Silent Advent Retreat at the nearby Bishop's Ranch outside of Healdsburg.
By the time our little Chancel Choir was dress rehearsing for the Really BIG Christmas Eve service, I had allowed myself to fall headlong into the seasonal frenzy. I could feel it the weeks before Christmas. I couldn't seem to insulate my spirit from the incessant DO DO DO! GO GO GO! Buy this, plan that, make SURE of THIS! I was full-tilt ADD, knee-trigger WHAT'S NEXT? girl. It's not surprising that my blood counts were slightly worse for the wear this month, after I had crowed about their Meaningful Increase just weeks prior. Platelets: MOVE IT!
By the Christmas Eve caroling and 11 pm Eucharist service I felt like a wobbly cardboard cutout. Where was my experience of magical wonder and spiritual emergence? "I know I'm pushing it," I told myself. "I know this isn't really the best for my health on any counts." And while I continued to praise my disciplined Advent chocolate avoidance (now enthusiastically relinquished) plus read Morning and Evening Prayer most days from this wondrous publication called Magnificat, I found myself tango'ing with the old dynamic that I thought I'd dropped…. playing a Red Shoes kind of drama with "never enough."
It's Monday, December 27th. There's a lovely pale fog in my Novato front yard. My work with the markets, which consists primarily of trying to make sense of the diabolically senseless, may be easier this week. The BIG CRASH!! I've been poised for since this past SUMMER! remains a distant rumor yet continued possibility. I'm locked in a very stressful battle with Alta Bates Summit Hospital, who are justifying charging me over a thousand dollars in co-pays just to walk through their doors twice to have seen my oncologist Dr. Krijanovsky. He's been paid! The labs have been paid! The hospital wants more blood. Guess who's taking them to the local media and possibly an attorney? Sigh. Breathe. Pray! Can I fight the good fight without getting my knickers in a knot? Just when I tell myself that I'll have a quiet day, along comes some avoidance or outrage and like the quintessential Pavlovian, I'm off to the races, drooling.
I am still a work in progress.
Above is a photo of our choir. Even though my choir director chewed me out for asking someone to take photos (dude! I had asked him not to use the flash! Don't yell at ME!)…. even though I was bleary-eyed dreading singing the really way too hard Poulenc without another six months of rehearsal….even though I thought, "Lord, I love you… but it's awful late to be in Church….), I was present and GRATEFUL. Two years ago I spent Christmas in a leukemia ward. (Alta Bates has already extracted their pounds of flesh for THAT). I didn't cry, although I almost did during a few rehearsals. I am less triggered and more grateful, less terrified and more soberly aware.
Still. It's not easy to know that death could come knocking when I have not invited it. I have no cheese and crackers for you; go away! I thought I'd be saving these musings for 30 years hence. I am shifting from really quite afraid to slightly more accepting. And in fact, in very rare moments, I feel an eagerness to leap into the Lord's arms… and see again those I love who have already left this planet. I guess when I'm tired I think more about death.
I'll get more CBC's this week as I feel guided. The requisition form is ready to download and print out. I have to watch my blood counts even though I am not my lab values.
It's a little later. The fog is beginning to clear here in Novato.