Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Walking with possibility

I’m at the Ranch until Friday. I came up here to walk, work on a writing project that’s been intimidating me, and because I love their Epiphany bonfire. I missed it last year; I was probably hosting homeless people at my church in Sacramento. I’ll do that again Monday. But I’m taking a break from leadership responsibilities. I’ll pick them up again when I come back from my road trip, at the end of this month or early February. I've only barely been able to engage, since I've been back on the cancer bus. Either it was emotionally or physically too much, or both.

It’s wonderful hiking weather here. The ground is wet and muddy, but it’s sunny and the air is clear and beautiful. The creeks are running; I love the sound of little waterfalls. They restored my favorite trail, along the creekbed. I’ve been walking, and thinking.

Someone on an unrelated message board posted a link to the Association of Cancer Online Resources (ACOR) listservs. You have to join a board to look at its archives. They have a caregiver list too. I didn’t sign up, for the obvious reason.

I poked around the melanoma board this morning, and came across a posting from someone who said he’d been stage IV for 22 years. His immune system, with significant help, has been holding the disease more or less steadily for that long. He feels the struggle in his body—but he is alive and capable.

It was the first time it hit me: That could be me. I could possibly survive this. I’ve been living within the five-year mental window, as if it were gospel. There is the other five percent. Anyone could be them. Even me.

The Riverside program staff told me miracle stories whenever I asked a direct question. I distrusted them for it. I’ve had two or three people tell me they had it on authority from God that I’d be okay. That just creeps me out. Why would God tell you something about me, and not tell me directly? The God I trust does not give or take diseases. To tell me so is totally false assurance.

A friend hugged me last summer and told me I’d have time. That was totally fine. She was going on how my body felt in her arms, and her own intuition. I wanted her to be right, and I still do. If you’re speaking of your experience of me, you can say what you like. And you are welcome to pray for me. But don’t tell me I’ll be a miracle. If me, why not others? Why not everyone?

Back to the point: What I read this morning was, “I have survived this.” Not, “These patients you’ll never meet,” and not, “God will keep you safe.” This was someone who has been through more hell than I have, and who is alive. That’s what finally got through to me.

I may have time, more than I had dared to truly insert myself into. So, what do I want to do with it?

Well, what I did just now was e-mail the poster and thank him. I also just remembered that I’ve been wanting to thank the maintenance staff here for repairing my favorite trail. I got into conversations in the office after my walk yesterday, and forgot. I’ll probably stop and leave them a note on my way to dinner.

I’m still on Facebook too much, and I’m not doing the Daily Office yet. I have been praying Compline the past few nights. It’s a bedtime prayer, and I love it. I love the language, the rhythms, the silences. In the space for intercession, all I want to say is thank you. Thank you, One who listens and loves and holds us all. Thank you just for being here.

I can’t think in big, broad brush-strokes yet. One small, intentional action at a time.


Cathy said...

I love Compline - it's one of my favorite services of the Daily Office. I'll pray the Morning Daily Office for you until you are ready.
I read mine online at

Two Auntees said...

I am thankful for the person who gave you hope. Sending you hugs.

Kirstin said...

Thank you Cathy!

Hugs to both of you.

Caminante said...

Simone Weil wrote about paying attention to the small things, and doing things with care... that sort of sounds to me where you are at right now... and it is very good. xo

PS Blessings on your time at the ranch and refinding your favourite paths and lots of Epiphany light and joy.

Kirstin said...

Ooh, I've been meaning to read her forever. Thank you.

xoxo back!

Paul said...

I. Am thankful. For you.

Kirstin said...

Paul, back to you.

it's margaret said...


Big yeah.

I, too, decided I didn't want the miracle thing. I kept hearing and seeing the risen Christ with open wounds. Big enough for Thomas to stick his fingers in.

I am never really sure what that means, but I am confident of it --if that makes any sense.

Just as I am confident of the glory of your being-ness. Now. And here.

I thank God for you.

Many blessing for your time at the Ranch. Kiss the tree for me. And I miss the smell of that wet earth with green things springing forth --because it's winter and that's when the water runs. I am so happy you are there.

Love to you.

jane said...

Why me? Why not me? I guess both questions are relevant to the disease and the subsequent hope. Such big things you wrestle with, and with such dignity.

I hope the time at the Ranch is all you need it to be. Much love.

Kirstin said...

Margaret, yes. One of my big realizations last summer was that Jesus had scars too.

I love you.

Thank you, Jane.