New Civilization News: Halfway    
 Halfway9 comments
picture18 May 2004 @ 10:51, by Richard Carlson

The nature of the mind, when understood,
No human words can compass or disclose.
Enlightenment is naught to be obtained,
And he that gains it does not say he knows.


It is the stars not known to science that I would know,
the stars which the lonely traveler knows.

---Henry David Thoreau

As long as you haven't experienced
This: to die and so to grow,
You are only a troubled guest
On the dark earth.

---Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A glorious tiger swallowtail photographed by Tomm Lorenzin

For Martha~~~

This morning, beautiful and clear after a night of roaming thunderstorms, I walked slowly down to the garden with a container of eggshells, coffee and tea grounds. This we deposit on the soil for its enrichment. There at one end were 5 perfect tiger swallowtails in a cluster, feeding in one spot. What could it mean, and what could they be doing? There was dampness there, but no more or less particularly than anywhere else. Their amazing tongues were exploring and enjoying something seemingly...but who knows? Maybe they have a season of their lives in which they simply want to gather as a species, to appreciate themselves and each other. But is that too much emotion with which to credit an insect...especially a solitary one? It might be that in the next day or 2, there will be great mating activity and our garden was like a soda fountain or dance at which young butterflies check each other out.

Here's the thing: I notice it is the business and nature of life to present each of us everyday, at least one creature or phenomenon we individually never have seen before. Every day. And from what I can gather looking around at least this one universe, life itself is a somewhat rare development. That makes each of these unique sights a certified miracle. And when I think more about it, I guess each thought is a miracle too. And each heartbeat and breath.

And when I think of Nature that way (and not every discovery is necessarily pretty and on-our-side) I see 3 things I should do about it. First, I should develop myself the very best I can to see these miracles, and more and more. I should be available and alert. Second, I should breathe gratitude for this vision and the opportunity to be a witness. And third, through whatever religion I practice and celebrate, I should spread the news around, some way or other. Surely those beings we consider most holy and worthy of emulation are those who have learned to do that. The guru, the prophet has figured out a way to do it all the time. And so can each of us.

I suppose some of this realization is coming out from this convalescence I am enduring. However slowly I thought I was able to live my life when I wanted to, I've discovered there is a greater slowness yet available and sometimes necessary. I've discovered one never can relax totally enough: there always is more and it too sometimes is positively essential. A friend of 30 years has taught me that over time, and while she does not welcome loud celebration of her skills and healing I must tell you a couple other things she advised before my surgery. She told me to take time to appreciate and lovingly say good-bye to the part(s) of me that would be removed. She reminded me that much pleasure and life-creativity had been granted to me through that gland, and to let that gratitude spread through my body. She suggested that I develop a consciousness to welcome the surgeon's knife and the healing to follow. I worked a good deal on that, and must tell you that my last thought before the anaesthesia had its way was of an openness to the procedure that was coming. How wonderful to be granted acquaintance with other people!

Dana has set strict limits for me and high expectations. At the same time she has offered a spaciousness in our relationship to accommodate a good deal of moaning and groaning on my part. While I am off the pain-killers almost entirely (except for a few hours in the middle of the night) the discomfort and suffering of major surgery is an awakening, rude or polite. My wife has been a planet of help and support through this, from start to wherever this is right now---which may be somewhat over halfway. She stood guard for me in a hospital situation that became increasingly careless. Now she continues her own heavy work schedule at the end of a schoolyear, and still makes time to nursemaid when I need it morning and night. And somehow too we have times of simple togetherness, which I'm sure we're appreciating more now.

A couple months before my diagnosis, we had begun a series of contemplative prayer experiences with our interim priest at Good Shepherd, Michael Jupin. These sessions not only deepened our individual spiritual lives, but developed a strong network of comradery among us participants. When I packed my little bag for the hospital, I took nothing to read or entertain myself, except The Book of Common Prayer. In the hospital I didn't study it though, nor did I watch TV. I found myself very much in the depth of each moment there, appreciating and participating in the experience of healing. Healing seems to be something achieved by surrender and allowing it to happen. One cooperates with the setting of circumstances so it can happen, and then prayerfully it does. It is a mystery that one cuts one's finger and it heals up. It is a gift. Father Michael came to visit me twice at the hospital, and each time there was laughter and devotion. He has been another source of great inspiration at this time.

So a week from tomorrow, if all is well, Dr. Batten will remove this catheter. He has advised that I notice improvement in my condition each day, but it is very slow and very minute. But it is noticeable and it cheers me on. This device has protected the healing process in the reattachment of urethra to bladder. That process is really what makes this surgery major. Depending on how this tube comes out and how I adapt to its removal, we shall know what further adaptations and work I need to make and do. And of course we must monitor what's going on in my bloodflow. This is hardly an experience one would select to have, although there definitely are free choices involved. But as with everything, there is much to learn and there is Grace to be received. Sometimes one sees it best kneeling...and looking up.

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18 May 2004 @ 12:13 by spiritseek : I understand
the beauty you see surrounding you now, I too have come to appreciate it very much. I notice the birds,squirrels,bees,spiders and ants along with their habits during the day. It's a shame it takes such a devastating occurence in our lives to wake us up, but at least now we are truely living it.God bless you and may love further your physical recovery as well as your spiritual.  

18 May 2004 @ 13:51 by martha : Dear Richard
"Healing seems to be something achieved by surrender and allowing it to happen." Yes yes yes.
Such a beautiful essay Richard. I love it when you write your thoughts and feelings and open up to the process of change. And you received such wonderful advice from your friend of 30 years. I also have a friend of 30 years, my soul sister and i can not imagine going through my own suffereing without her by my side. We helped each other out through many difficult times and I have felt blessed to have first found her when I was 20.

You are lucky to have Dana in your life and I always knew she was a strong woman even though we haven't really talked. You have much to be grateful for and I believe you now understand the full meaning of why you are with Dana.
i am honored that you dedicated this beautiful essay to me and doubly honored to know you and have you as my comrad here at NCN.  

18 May 2004 @ 16:44 by swan : Ahhh...they didn't take his ability to
write beautiful essays away. Thank God. Blessings to Dana for being such a wonderful companion, nurse, support and love. I am glad you are feeling better everyday Richard.  

19 May 2004 @ 02:42 by Ashanti @ : Blessings
to you and Dana, Richard. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Keep focusing on that beauty. With warmest love from Africa, Ashanti.  

19 May 2004 @ 03:10 by scotty : I've always been admirative
of your writings Richard - but this must count as one of the best I've read !

I'm deeply touched by the compassion of your teaching here and I thank you!  

19 May 2004 @ 03:15 by jazzolog : Mutual Admirativity Society
We're at our best at NCN when we extend our hugs around the world.  

19 May 2004 @ 16:30 by petavie : Add France
In the wide world prayer for your recovery Richard. Love and light. Sylvie.  

24 May 2004 @ 09:44 by dempstress : Thankyou
for reminding me of similar thoughts and feelings after a similar experience in my life. No matter how profound they are at the time the its-and-bits of daily life tend to veil them again after a while, or at least to push them away from the forefront of everyday consciousness. It is very good that I've had the privilege of that time passing, but also very good to be reminded.

Richard, if we ever get you hauled over to this ancient Alba it would be woderful if you could visit the Western Isles. My first post-hospital trip was to Skye, in May. Heaven knows the variety of weather in Britain is one of the best things about it ('If you don't like the weather wait half an hour and there'll be something else along.') But in the Isles you can see it all coming at you, across the water, across the other islands, patches and swathers of sunshine and showers. We found the ruins of an ancient monument, and in 40 minutes sitting there it was sunshine and tea-shirts, then sudden thick mist, then sunshine again then pouring rain....and we could see them all racing towards us. Then, later that afternooon, the song of a skylark over a sunny, flower-filled meadow. Thankyou so much for reminding me of those intense pleasures.


PS: there's been a radio competition here for the best newly devised word. The winner was a description of pregnant persons going to get an ultrasound to check out the baby: sprognosis. Brilliant!  

25 May 2004 @ 10:28 by celestial @ : Butterflies
Richard, as I began to read when I got to the part that there were five tiger swallowtails in a cluster, the thought occured to me that they were brothers and sisters. Since there were five in my family, it is time for me to concentrate on them for I won't be as active on site but will be making brief visits most everyday. Thanks for sharing; it means everyting to me.  

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