Wednesday, November 10, 2010


For 52 years we sang our song:
In harmony and in dissonance,
In prosperity and poverty,
In sickness and health, we did our dance.

I confess it's tough to sing solo;
Your dear, clear voice anchored me on key.
But even mainstays can't endure
When Time gives way to Eternity.

My task is to learn to harmonize
With solitary reality.
I'm grateful you patterned the freedom
That allows me to sing authentically.

You can rest assured, my Beloved.
I am at home within my soul,
Joyful in Love, in community.
Just like you, I'm at One with the Whole.

I wrote an epilogue to my book to let readers know that Fred and Suzanne had passed in the years following the book's slice of life. This is the poem I chose with which to introduce this final bit.
It's finished. I've sent my approval for the final edit. Now I'm waiting. Pins and needles.


Friday, November 5, 2010


Come, it is a miracle!
A tortuous passage, yet clearly marked,
That recalls our Journey.
The journey that began in a time/place when/where
We and they and all of space-time were together in one tiny center,
All potentiality.

Winding toward the center,
Mundane orientation falls away.
The Minotaur waits to devour dark daily habits.
A new realm reached, I'm delivered to my own sacred story,
Circling out like Ariadne's thread,
Secrets totally revealed.

From the still point at center,
All my relations gather round and dance,
Rippling out like water from the place through which
I have fallen into dark radiance.
Blinded, now I see clearly what to leave behind
 For the moment, I rest safe. Secure in Now.

The moment delivers me back to awareness
 Of sweet Earth's support, bearing me all my life.
Here I undertake to pursue the outward path,
Lightly, dancing unburdened as I return,
Prepared to meet the challenge that waits:
To serve the immense Journey.

So my book is at the publisher's. In the last 2 weeks, I've added an introduction, dedication, acknowledgements, an epilogue. Oh, and a new title. It's so exciting I'm having a hard time getting to sleep at night.

The above poem introduces the Introduction :) The book's title has been Passage: Illness as Initiation. Now it's Illness as Initiation: An Unlikely Heroine's Journey. For better or worse, I decided there had been too many Passage titles in the last few years. The labyrinth is a foundational image for the work.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Journey on Many Levels

I'm at my son Scott's house, halfway home from my trip to attend the maiden voyage of the Level IV Matrix Energetics seminar. My mother stayed with Scott and Rachel while I was gone; she and I return home today.

The seminar presented Richard Bartlett's latest construct of the 40 different healing modalities he has mastered. Rich and varied information presented in usable templates. I think it will take me two years to get my mind around it. I'm so glad I went.

Spent time with Gil Woltjer, Sheryl Anderson, Lynn, Lela and Ileana Woltjer. Long- term relationships are such a blessing. Fred and I met Lynn and Gil in Brazil in 1968. We've maintained our friendship through thick and thick.

Ready to settle back at home and dream my next adventure.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tough Kid

                        She came into the world pink, sweet and vulnerable,
                        Full of light.
                        Her memories of the first years of life
                        Were largely those of a victim.
                        Disappointingly weak, easily put down.

                        When she was seven, she learned to ride a horse,
                        And was transformed.
                        The pink and white victim-child went into hiding.
                        A tough kid came out.
                        Thick armor hiding all weakness, taking on the world.

                        The Tough Kid willingly rode bucking calves,
                        All eyes on her,
                        At the neighborhood roping arena on Sunday afternoon,
                        Not minding the whip-lashed spine nor the
                        Grit in her mouth when she landed on her face in the sand.

                        Not only did she grow up tough, she had a mean streak,
                        And was proud of it.
                        The toughness, the pride and the thick armor
                        All grew up with her,
                        Protecting the vulnerable child within.

                        The child had enough of hiding.
                        She wanted her light to shine.
                        The protective armor smothered her.
                        She grew strong enough to come out.
                        Right through the Tough Kid’s heart, which broke.

                        A broken heart was nothing to the Tough Kid.
                        On those long-ago Sundays, she got up, spat out dirt,
                        Glared at the laughing men and boys around her,
                        And marched out of the arena.
                        This time her broken heart was in her hand.

                        I come to honor this dark part of myself,
                        My protector.
                        When I stand in awe of the difficulties I've endured,
                        And the strength with which I withstood them,
                        I am deeply grateful for the Divine gift of the Tough Kid.

Thus begins the final chapter of Passage: Illness as Initiation. Now to get it out into the world. That's even scarier than riding calves as a seven-year-old.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In the Flesh

                                                Nexus of infinity,
                                                My consciousness a galaxy,
                                                Each atom a solar system,
                                                I am an astronaut
                                                Exploring all that is.

                                                Elements that form my body
                                                Have ventured extravagantly,
                                                Have ranged for thirteen billion years,
                                                Coming to rest for a moment
                                                Within the boundary of my skin.

                                                Without moving, I am able to
                                                Trace that perfect pilgrimage,
                                                Project a future just as vast
                                                And return again to repose
                                                At home, embraced in flesh.

The story of my lymphoma and Fred's stroke, 1999-2000, is really a very small part of my 73 years and our 52 years together. It's absolutely miniscule compared to the journey described in the poem, taken with our Universe. Human life is precious beyond measure. Mystical imagination also.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Safe Harbor

I long to escape this reality,
Feeling trapped,
Being responsible.

To retreat to a safe harbor,
A hideaway,
A sanctuary,

To seclude and anchor myself
Away from here,
Away from care.

In my imagination I run away
To a guarded nook,
Any life but the one I have.

Yet I know before I set out,
 That my care-filled vigil
Is the only place for me.

And so I come home
To my heart,
My sacred place.

     Writing about my cancer experience and Fred's stroke has been  instructive. I can be more objective about my pain, but tears still come when I write of Fred's. Perhaps that's why we have partners, to reflect compassion back to ourselves.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Resisting inevitable change,
she clung to familiar discomfort
rather than enter the new unknown.

Her old skin, faded, dry and scarred
could constrict her growth
for only so long; it split.

Emerging into the new day, she flowed,
resplendent in tender, glistening, pliant color,
leaving the old behind.

Transformed, she rarely thinks
of her former self, content now with the new,
which seems each day to grow a little tighter.

Growing up in west Texas, where we encountered rattlesnakes on a regular basis,I had the common almost-phobic fear of snakes. Reading Starhawk's books on the history of goddess worship changed my attitude from fear to appreciation for the ancient awe of snakes as a symbol for resurrection. I love this poem. When I feel miserable, it's a signal for an AFGE* in my life.

*Another F'ing Growth Experience

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Letting Be

Thank you, East, and thank you, South.
Thank you, West, and thank you, North.
Thanks, Above, and thanks, Below.
And thank you, Sacred Self within.

I in Thou, and Thou in me,
Thou in all and all in Thee
Letting go and letting be,
I in Thou, and thou in me.

I use this song, to the tune of "Just a Closer Walk With Thee," as part of a body prayer done in the warm pool in my back yard on a more-or-less regular basis. I love the feeling it gives me of being at the center of the Universe.

I also used it as part of the celebration of completing chemotherapy, to which I'd invited my spiritual community before Fred's stroke. He was still in ICU when we gathered, so the celebration doubled as a prayer session for his recovery. It worked well.

One of the important works of our time is reinventing meaningful ritual, both solitary and corporate. I'd love some comments on this. What are rituals you've invented?  

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


                        This is a poem to you, Fred,
                        Whom I have tried to control a thousand ways.
                        You retreated into an unreachable place
                        To escape my manipulations,
                        Athlete’s body running away
                        From my need to be enmeshed.

                        A part of you needed that, too,
                        But a part of me always trusted
                        That you would not be controlled,
                        Could not be pinned down,
                        A mountain man, you left me to my plains-ness
                        And my freedom.

                        No one can control another:
                        That you have taught me well.
                        You have led me on many adventures,
                        Exploring the space of our glorious planet home.
                        Now I would be your partner on
                        Adventures of the spirit,
                        Exploring the inner world.

                        Let us continue our quest side by side
                        In every realm possible.
                        Let us go forth with courage
                        To finish the journey we began in love,
                        As children,
                        My husband, Fred.

I wrote this poem as a gift  to Fred after the Twelve Steps saved our lives and our marriage. I took a cautious approach to life, and depended on Fred for adventure. Life with him was never boring, on any level.

This poem introduces the chapter in my book that recounts the longest day of my life, beginning with my last chemotherapy treatment and ending after midnight in the Fresno Trauma Center where Fred was taken after he fell from a ladder and suffered a cerebral hemorhhage. One step at a time got me through the devastating day, grateful for Suzanne, who saved her dad's life, for friends, who went to the hospital with me, and for our sons, who showed up as soon as they could get there, allowing me to collapse.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Lost Child

Loving friends, advisors and teachers surrounded the child.
When they talked to her, she answered them aloud.
One day her mother heard, and asked,
“Who are you talking to?”
Blushing, she answered, “Them.”
At supper her mother told the family that she had imaginary friends.
They laughed. The child burned with shame.
She stopped talking to her friends aloud,
And could no longer hear their counsel and comfort.
She was left alone.

When she grew old, loving grandchildren surrounded her.
They taught her to play again.
They healed her blinding, deafening shame.
She and the children sang and painted pictures.
They banged on the piano, danced and ran outside in the rain.
She even wore suns and moons on her clothes.
Her invisible friends, advisors and teachers returned.
Surrounding her once again,
They counseled her and she answered them, aloud.
The child that was lost is found.

I experienced grandparenthood as a miraculous re-awakening of the child within. Then came all kinds of new possibilities. Chapter 12 of my book begins with this poem and tells of a guided imagery journey that served as a soul retrieval. A  hands-on-healing reveals how I had harbored patriarchy within myself while railing against it in the world.  It was the month of my 5th chemotherapy treatment. My mother, who was only 87 then, 11 years ago, came to take care of me. What an intense time that was.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The One

 All the lessons of my life are one:
 I control nothing outside myself,
Yet my decisions affect all.
All the power of my life flows from one Source
I exist in Love as a fish in water,
Wholly sustained.

All the decisions of my life are one:
To rest in Love and to forgive,
Accepting absolution.
All the time of my life is this one moment:
 I affirm the past and await
 The promise of the future.

I listened to a wonderful lecture last night by Ken Wilber. He said that issues of spirituality, faith and religion are more important than global warming (or any external problem, I assume.) He laid out developmental levels of states of consciousness. The above poem was written in a moment when I experienced, however fleeting, the integral level. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Inheritance Management

The young man who set up our family trust 14 years ago came by yesterday. We've both aged since we met. He has lost some hair. Mine is gray. He was so helpful to me when my husband Fred died, taking care of many legal details. Still, whenever I need a notary, he stops by, no charge.

With tears in his eyes, he said he was really busy because three of his clients had died in the last week. When he went into the inheritance management business, that aspect of it probably didn't occur to him. He recalled a Twilight Zone episode about a nursing home where someone had made it possible for the residents to become young again. Most of them were quite excited, but one man declined the offer, saying he didn't want to go through losing all his loved ones again.

Death seems so awful when we're young but it has become familiar to me. Not welcome, but not to be dreaded.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Taking off her roller skates,
The nine-year-old entered the small empty church in silence.
 She was a trespasser,
Overwhelmed by fear, drawn forth by fascination.
The candles glowed in the darkness, bidding her welcome.
The faces of the graven images invited her close.

She trespassed.
Yet it was her beliefs that were encroached upon.
Could the awe she felt truly be idolatry?
Could reverence for this sweet mother truly be evil?
This thought deepened the fear, filling her with apprehension.
She fled, retreating to the safety of familiar dogma.

Grown up, she learned to love
The upward rush of reverence, entering a cathedral.
The cordial hospitality of lavish imagery,
Warm brilliance of stained glass,
Fragrance of incense, all embraced her, body and spirit.
No longer held back by austere belief, no longer a trespasser.

  Still there was more to the story.
  In her older years,
 She loved even more the simple sweetness of the sweat lodge,
 Cool of earth beneath her, slap of steam upon her face,
 Back in the womb of Mother Earth,
Trespass now impossible.

This was a way to recount my spiritual development, from the fundamentalism of my youth  that taught me to fear Roman Catholicism especially, to appreciation of all Christian paths, to appreciation for the indiginous spirituality of America. The spiral outward to an ever larger context continues.

Chapter 10 of Passage, which begins with this poem, tells about the vision quest with which I celebrated my 60th birthday. That was two years before lymphoma appeared, but I included it as context for the spiritual practices that helped me cope with cancer.