Sunday, January 12, 2014

Winter Fires...

 Quiet miracles. I have experienced some of those. In fact, today I got to celebrate one. My beloved sister-in-law, who is as much a sister to me as either of my 2 blood sisters,  sat next to me today at lunch. The lunch was a birthday celebration for HER son, sister(me), daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. And she is here to celebrate it. One year ago (in a matter of weeks) the doctors at Barnes Jewish hospital dropped the C-bomb on us, telling us that her brain tumor was a malignant Glioblastoma Multiforme. That it was one of the worst brain cancers, most aggressive, and that generally the prognosis is about 1 year to live for people with it.  We were all devastated and scared out of our minds.

  Here's a picture of my quiet miracle

Isn't she beautiful ? Of course, that's me in the grey t-shirt and her in the dark jacket.  Almost one year later, and she is relatively healthy and looking good.  The last MRI showed no signs of regrowth. The new state of the art chemo continues. She still tires easily and she gets sick when the chemo is going on. But it's a pill form that they came up with that could finally permeate the brain barrier. That has always been a problem with brain cancers in the past. And God has graced her with a genetic mutation that only 35% of the population has, apparently, that is enabling them to use the tumor to create a vaccine.  All cutting edge, experimental stuff, but it seems to be working.  So many small many elegant blessings. I am so grateful.

  So, I got to spend the noontime hours with my family of origin, or some of them anyway. My brother and my niece and my nephew and his children and his wife and some of her family too. 

  I go to talk to my youngest brother and his daughter tonight, as her birthday was yesterday. More blessings. Little Skyler is another one of those miracles.  My brother and his wife tried for years to have a baby and couldn't. Then finally, when they gave up and settled back--POOF!  And little Sky was born premature and has had a few struggles in her life, but she is amazing! Shriners hospital in St Louis was practically her second home in the first years of her life as they worked their magic on her legs and feet. Because she was a preemie, her lungs were fragile and everyone had to be sure to stay away unless they were cold and germ and flu free. Watching her grow up and blossom in spite of great obstacles has been such a lesson to me. And her parents--her biggest cheerleaders. I love them all so much.

  Last night we attended the annual Winter Fires Coffeehouse at La Vista. We gather every year, and some read poetry, some play music, and we all bring desserts and enjoy a wonderful fellowship.  These people are the family of my heart.  This year was particularly wonderful. 2 novitiates from Zambia and one from India. 3 priests, who are as different from one another as night and day, equally precious and beloved. Sister Maxine, who works so hard organizing these things and is a dear friend to me.  Lots of people I know, some I met for the first time. Some kids (who are growing up before my eyes) that have been part of our celebrations there for the past 9 in her first year of college!! (How can that be?? They were all 3 little girls last time I looked).  2 read poems, one played guitar (Beatles--Blackbird).  A friend I haven't seen for a while who played a beautiful tune for us on her cello.  And made a connection with a local artist that felt really good...we spoke for a bit and exchanged numbers.  Lots of small miracles...connections. Art. Beauty. Humanity.  (And did I mention really great assortment of desserts?)  We heard readings from Tennyson and Mary Oliver and Rumi and Hafiz and Carrie Newcomer and Wendell Berry and the Bhagavhad Gita and Robert Frost and oh so many others.  It was just perfect.

  And Saturday morning I witnessed another miracle...someone hitting an early  milestone in the recovery from addiction process...30 days of continuous clean/sober time.  These miracles I get to see often, as I am in the recovery community myself. I never cease to be amazed at the beauty of God's grace in the lives of the downtrodden. I hope I never will. 

  Einstein once said something like ..." There are only 2 ways to live your life: Either everything is a miracle, or nothing is a miracle."  I prefer to be of the former persuasion...everything can be seen as a miracle.  According to The Course in Miracles, a miracle is a shift in perception. The whole world unfolds according to how I perceive it.   Things change, according to my expectations.  The depth and breadth of every single event in my life is constantly changing.  I can be as awestruck or as bored as I choose to be. I can be as happy or as miserable as I choose as well.  Looks like a no-brainer to me.  Everything from the miracle of life to the sprouting of a seed to the sunrise every morning...from the artists paintings to the music of Bach to the soft warm towels that come out of my dryer.  The promise of Love. The promise of Grace. 

  I have to tell you ...I read the lyrics of the Carrie Newcomer song, Holy As A Day Is Spent, for my poem last night. I am in love with this song...and I have posted them before, but I'm going to post them again. Because I can.  LOL

Holy is the dish and drain
The soap and sink, and the cup and plate
And the warm wool socks, the cold white tile
Showerheads and good dry towels

And frying eggs sound like psalms
With bits of salt measured in my palm
It’s all a part of a sacrament
As holy as a day is spent

Holy is the busy street
The cars that boom with passion’s beat
And the checkout girl, Counting change
The hands that shook my hands today

And hymns of geese fly overhead
And stretch their wings like their parents did
Blessed be the dog
That runs in her sleep
To chase some wild and elusive thing

Holy is the familiar room
And quiet moments in the afternoon
And folding sheets like folding hands
To pray as only laundry can

I’m letting go of all my fears
Like autumn leaves of earth and air
For the summer came and the summer went
As holy as a day is spent

Holy is the place I stand
To give whatever small good I can
And the empty page, the open book
Redemption everywhere I look

Unknowingly we slow our pace
The shade of unexpected grace
And with grateful smiles and sad lament
As holy as a day is spent

And morning light sings “providence”
As holy as a day is spent. 


  And with that, I am going to bed.  Sweet dreams and may you witness every miracle that life has to offer.



Susan said...

I had a feeling about 2014 - and it looks like it WILL be a wonderful year, if it's anything like yours. It's so important to be open to miracles and to see each event as a door that opens to something new and better. I hope your year continues to be so wonderful - for you, your family and your friends.

Judy T said...

So glad things are going well for your SIL. We lost my FIL to GBM about 10 years ago. It sounds like the treatment has come along way since then.
It's good to hear that positive things are happening in your life. Looking forward to the miracles a new year can bring!

Mariodacatsmom said...

So happy to hear about all the miracles. We need to be reminded of them now and then. They are out there if we just have an open mind to find them. Nam, you just have the most wonderful attitude. It would be so fun to meet you in person some time.

Carol said...

Today was a really bad day, it was a new behavior to stay productive and not to whine to others. My breath was taken away but I stayed the course so even though in a place of fear, I was able to function, cooked and got some dishes done.

The reading was good for me, usually every piece of the picture does look sacred. I so seldom have troublesome things happen, it hits me hard. I think I just whined!

Akannie said...

Thanks Susan--I wish the same for you. The older I get the more I'm sure that it's the little things that make up the extraordinary.

Here's to a FABULOUS 2014 !!!!!

Akannie said...

Judy--So good to see you! The GBM is brutal...we are keeping our hearts lifted in prayer and our fingers crossed. We just lost a young man(well, 45) locally with brain cancer who couldn't cope anymore and took his own life. 6mobnths ago, the same thing happened to a very old friend of mine in California. It's all so tragic...

Glad all is well up your way. Counting the days til spring so I can get back to all that hard work. lol

Akannie said...

MDCM...I would love that too. We should get the maps out and see what's what. I trek up your way from time to time...

I think that when you've been through some stuff in your life you eventually reach this place where you might as well look on the sunny side. Honest Abe said "Most people are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be". I find that to be true, don't you ?

Kisses and hugs to you and Katie Isabella !!!

Akannie said...'s okay to whine isn't it ? lol We all go through those times--I know I do.

You are especially blessed. Just remember that.

Anonymous said...

Greg and I never gave up on having a baby.....there has been numerous people who have assumed we did. I guess that is the conclusion that they all made without knowing for sure....Skyler is the best thing ever to come into our lives, she was well worth the wait and she keeps proving that every day.....

Rita said...

OMG! I am so glad I went back this far, Annie! Your post and that poem made me cry! It spoke to the singing in my soul--the joys of the little things I so greatly appreciate. I think having had life be so repeatedly difficult for so long...well, people don't realize how humbly grateful I am for my plain, quiet, calm, peaceful days here these last nine years. Life is filled with miracles. I have always seen matter how rough my life got, you know? I feel so badly for people who don't. Bless you, dear one!! :):)