Monday, April 25, 2011

Three years ago

I heard the word “melanoma” for the first time, from my dermatologist over the phone on a Friday afternoon.  The sky darkened, the earth quaked... and three years later, here I am.

Now, on this Easter Monday, my words clatter together until they fall silent and I give up. I’m still worn out (in the best way) from Easter Vigil. I’m at the Ranch; everything's still green, and the flowers are out everywhere.  A friend came up to visit this morning; we talked until we just got quiet and looked out at everything, sitting with time, presence, love, and beauty.  I have to go to Sac tomorrow to get an MRI, to find out whether my brain mets are stable. If they are, I’ll be eligible for clinical trials. That’s the standard of care, out here on the precipice. I’ll be back here by dinner, and probably find out the results on Wednesday. I feel like I’m staring transfixed at the sunrise, kicking rocks off the cliff with one absent-minded foot.

I give you three poems. This one has been suggested to me at least twice this week:

Wendell Berry, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

A long-time favorite of mine, from before I had any idea what it meant:

e.e. cummings, "i thank You God for most this amazing"

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

And this will be the psalm at my memorial:

The Rev. Virginia Going, “Today”

Let me live today.
Let me be open to the miracle of this day.
Let me breathe the best of today.
Let me not miss the heart of today.
Let me find the gift of today,
hidden like a jewel in rubble of care, duty, and detail.

Let me pause to hear
the steady beat of the heart of God—
hoping, aching, sorrowing, expectant, patient,
despairing heart of God.

Listen, listen.
Do you hear it?
Ever so faint but steady, steady,
rhythmic organ, strong muscle,
thumping, beating, pumping, sustaining, encompassing,
wildly dancing heart of God.

Let me live this day, aware, open, listening, breathing, alive.


Mary Beth said...

So much love. (K)

jw said...

I want to comment; don;t know what to say. Shhhhhhh...... Joy!

Anonymous said...

With you.


ARDEE said...

Thank you, Kirstin, for your unflinching look at all of life. You've touched my spirit in a deep place. Love go with you. --Ardee

it's margaret said...

Loving you kicking rocks off the cliff.

Mary Beth said...

It's Wednesday and I'm praying.

Kat said...

Reading these again, thinking of you as you await results. Praying over all of it, amazed that this is where you are and how you are in the midst of it.

May grace and strength and love fill and surround you today.

susankay said...

yes -- wildly dancing.

sacsing said...

I love Eric Whitacre's gorgeous setting of I thank you god. May it bring you peace and beauty.

Lindy said...

These are fantastic poems. Thank you. I lit a candle for you here in Seoul the other day. It was at a Buddhist temple, but there were other Christians there praying too. And it was beautiful, all decked out for the Buddha's birthday, and there's a candle, a big one, burning there for you.

Lindy said...

These are fantastic poems. Thank you. I lit a candle for you here in Seoul the other day. It was at a Buddhist temple, but there were other Christians there praying too. And it was beautiful, all decked out for the Buddha's birthday, and there's a candle, a big one, burning there for you.

JCF said...

More prayers {{{Kirstin}}} . . . in 10 days I have a biopsy (breast), so I may be on this path, too. (Natch, praying/hoping I'm not. Yet.)

finch said...

I came back here to read your words, because I didn't like the ones you shared on facebook today.

Let me hold your hand, rub your back, stand arm in arm as we watch little birds tango with the tide.

Sending hugs to you, prayers upwards.

Much love, my friend.

Kate said...

Blessings on the ones
who know themselves always at
the grave’s edge, yet choose
abundant living
over death, teaching me to
sing 'Alleluia!'

Kirstin, thank you for continuing to teach me to sing 'Alleluia!' Your voice soars over all the rest.

Much, much love to you and all the ones who hold you.