Monday, June 3, 2013

A Creation Story

This is a hard post to write.

On Friday, I found myself in the hospital with a collapsed lung, a pleural effusion -- the lining around my lungs filled with a beer-colored fluid, which a surgeon drew out with a long needle, filling three liter-sized glass jugs.  So much fluid, my liver, heart, trachea, all were shifted out of place.  This morning, a sample of that fluid was on an airplane, heading for a pathology lab in Anchorage.

And I am here, my feet in sealskin slippers on the ground.  Today I am waiting, once again waiting.  Today I am both afraid and numb.  And open, also, strangely so.  How does one wait?  Out of reflex, one calls it "limbo," this waiting, this not-knowing.  Should I watch movies?  Should I clean the refrigerator?  Should I prepare for the workshop I'm teaching at a conference in a couple weeks, as if, as if?  Should I answer emails?  Should I make phone calls?  Should I think positively or prepare for the worst?

A friend from Cape Cod sent me a note a couple days ago, and I just reread it.  She told me that she was thinking of me as she pulled "pottery from our earth pit this morning and some of it broke as always."  I saw a photograph of this earth pit, of small vessels being raked out of the ashes.  She wrote:

ash and clay
wind and fire
heart and rattle
a dirt womb
a belly bowl
a place for prayers and dreams
a place for offerings

She said she "gave thanks for all that survives this kind of heat, this kind of living down deep in the heart of the matter."

She wrote:
i send an ocean wave
a meandering path
a poppy's bright orange face blessing
And I realized that there was another way to wait.  That the word "limbo" is a short-cut, a cliche.  That whatever comes next in this day, in this week, in this moment, in this life, requires an act of imagination, of re-imagination.  It requires more than medicine, distraction, analysis, pathology, diagnosis, procedure, to-do list, platitude.  When there is nothing I can do, nothing to speed along an answer.  When there is no one who can divine my future or fate.  Then an act of imagination is required.  To imagine what I have never imagined before.  To create what I have never created. 
I want to dig myself a dirt womb.  I want tunnel down to the place of prayers, dreams, and offerings.  I will rake something out of the ashes of whatever comes next.  I will rename whatever this experience is and will be.  Whatever this experience is and will be, whatever this place is where I am waiting, and where I will be no longer waiting, it will not be called "cancerland."  It will be newborn, never before imagined or realized, mine and mine alone.  

1 comment:

  1. Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

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