Friday, January 27, 2017

Women Marching

(I am somewhat indisposed, recovering from radiation and chemotherapy treatments, and when women marched in Washington and throughout the country and world I could only watch on C-Span. But in the course of that day I became aware of that same woman power present in Washington also present in my somewhat isolated life. So I wrote this, a poem reflecting on woman power as experienced by someone who has been loved by women who could otherwise have been occupied.  It's not very good, it is self serving in its own ego way (but ain't that the way of poems), and it speaks only to the power of love. Still, as Che Guevara suggested,

“At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.” 

So, to the end that the Women's March was guided by great feelings of love, here is the poem.)

WOMEN marching

Thousands on thousands:
The power of WOMEN marching
Is real,
As real as it gets.

The power of WOMEN marching
Is no surprise to me,
For I have seen WOMEN
Singularly engaged in witness,
Protest and support,

Seen WOMEN marching
in times of small daily strife,

seen WOMEN marching
in the hard times of life.

I am close to WOMEN,
WOMEN marching in my life.
I know whereof I speak.



SHE has marched for years,
And I with her.
SHE stood in silence against the war
And I with her.
SHE sits by my bedside in quiet
While I am visited by demons.
SHE marches through my pity
And my fears,
SHE brings redemption and release.


SHE has gotten old,
As have I.

SHE writes from Maryland
To tell me that love is still there
And real.

SHE reaches into our past.
SHE remembers us, younger,
Sitting in the sand.

SHE and I shared magic smoke,
SHE remembers my swearing
there were tanks coming over
the waves and dunes.

SHE laughs now,
Marching through
Our little passions.

SHE carries a flag
Of love and laughter.

How can I not be young again,
Marching with her?


SHE is my alter ego,
My light in darkness,

SHE marches tonight
Through my loneness and fear.

I texted her to phone,
I needed her voice.
We spoke.

SHE wrote later
“The weird days will pass
and soon they will be
just far far away memories!
So far that you could swear
they are not yours.”
SHE marched, this daughter mine,
Into my heart
To stay.


So I know:
There are strong WOMEN marching,
In the thousands on Washington’s fields,
And in my life, on my streets,

And the power of those WOMEN
Is as real as it gets.

The power of these WOMEN marching
Surprises only those
Who have refused to get close

Who tremble only in fear
At the actions of WOMEN
Trampling out the vintage
Where the grapes of wrath are stored.

For the rest of us,
Close to this blinding
WOMAN force,
Who have received grace on grace,
And sometimes great correctives,
Of equal WOMAN force,
We call out in solidarity
And thanksgiving,

March on! March on!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Returing from the Dark Side of the Moon.

Dear Friends: For those still praying for, thinking of, or standing by, a kind of report of things as I am on the way to recovery from the treatment.

I last wrote a “status report” on November 29th. My sense then was that I was going “behind the moon” meaning that communications would become more and more difficult as the treatment and its effects began to overwhelm my ability to do much more than make it from day to day. 

I was about right, although I had no sense of how tough it was going to be.  For all intents and purposes I have been absent as a person from about the first week of December until the first week of January. The cumulative effect of the radiation and chemo treatments crested about a week after the end of treatment (December 19). I ended up in hospital from December 18 to 22, with a salt deficiency and related miseries.

Christmas was a kind of marker that things were beginning to turn slightly better. Being with family and back at my Boston home (Matt and Kellee’s) helped a lot. But there was no food by mouth, no taste, an inability to speak much, and strange dreams.  The dreams were an odd addition to the effects.

I tend to dream with some story-line, with a kind of beginning and end, and certainly with a sense of difference between begin awake and asleep. But for a while I was drifting in and out of a dream state and waking state without much changes between one and the other, and the dreams themselves were of bleak dry places and pointless wonderings. I became quite worried (when I was fully awake) that I was slipping into another world.

All of that broke one night when after dreaming this pointless dream yet again I woke up with a start and thought, “Oh, that was a dream.” And the two were separated again.  I have not been back to that fearful bleak world again.

So now I am in recovery. The doctors say that the process varies from person to person, but it is a two to three month process, mirroring the increasing effects of the treatment program itself. So at first there was not much to report, but now as the weeks go by (it is January 15) things are looking up.  I am eating again, although most of the taste has not returned. I’m able to concentrate more.  I can talk for more than a moment or two.

Most importantly Kathryn has come to take me back home to Delaware.

The healing goes on.

In the meantime, of course the healing from the treatment is different from the healing if the cure takes hold and the cancer is gone.  The hopes that I will once again be able to taste, swallow, speak, eat normally, are all being met more and more each day. But what about the hope that the cancer itself is effectively gone?  Well, there won’t be a first read on that for another two months, and if clean then regular readings over the next years. If the readings come back with cancer still present, then we work on next steps. Hope for recovery from the treatment is one thing. Hope for the end of this cancer is another.

So we move from hope to hope, from living in this moment where a good moment is drinking a smoothie with chunks of fruit, to living in the next where the good moment is dealing with the challenges of that moment as wellA 76, I suspect life will consist more often than not, of moments of “dealing with” with some grace and joy.  I can do this.

Again I am so aware of how much “dealing with” moments are effected by the love and care you have all had for me.  The Rector of all Lewes got members of the congregation to write postcards, so each day fifteen to twenty cards arrive, and after a while they become a tidal wave of mutterings of love. I have received wonderful letters and emails from friends. In particular, I have been touched and energized by notes from people who I encouraged along the way in exploring life and ministry, who have “reported in”.  When I’m down and out, these notes make me hope that perhaps something I did was of value. And value, the mutterings of love, and the care along the way make all the difference.

Barring setbacks or other surprises I’ll probably report next in a couple of weeks. But for now my thanks again for all your care, support and love.

As I reported last time:

“There, there,” she said.

“After a while,

On the dark side of the moon,

The Earth rises,

And you get to go home.”