healing haven

Soul Food Cafe Prompts

The writings on this page are from inspiration and prompts at Soul Food Cafe, established by Heather Blakey.   Soul Food Café prompted me to learn blogging, and gave me a venue for writing and sharing some of the myriad creative activities I was working on through the years and incorporated into my hospice work.

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QUESTIONS FOR THE DOCTOR – a list

 

Let’s see now.  What else should I ask?  Where’s that list?  Oh, yes, so far I’ve got:

 

  • Is it really cancer?  That word, cancer, sounds so unreal.  Mom and Dad had cancer so I guess it’s possible or probable that I would also.  Should that be the first question?  Well, it IS the first question. How can it not be?

 

  • How big is the tumor?  I didn’t even feel it or know it was there.  How can it have been growing inside me and I not know it?  Just like Mom’s brain tumors growing big and no one knowing they were there.

 

  • What, exactly, is adeno… adenocarcinoma of the uterusWhat a lovely sounding word, yet isn’t lovely to have.  ah-den-oh-car-sin-oh-mah    Just rolls off the tongue.  Could even be the name of a character in a story.  Adeno Carsin Oma was the grandmother (yes, the Oma) of five delightful grandchildren.  Oma loved to hold them when they were babies, but now they are growing up and don’t want to be held as much as to have stories told to them, particularly of the time when…

 

·        Could it be benign?  Or must it be malignant?  What will I tell everyone?  And coming too close after Sis’s operation for a benign but dangerously placed tumor near her pituitary gland.  I’m glad I had a chance to be with her during her recovery last month, but how will everyone deal with me having cancer right now?

 

  • How long have I had itGrowing inside, like my fingernails grow, like my cells grow, like all the life processes go on inside without my awareness.  A part of me wants to just get it out quickly, yet… really… it is just doing what is its nature to do.  Grow, survive, reproduce, grow more.  Just like us humans as we take over the earth thinking we are the important ones…free to kill animals and destroy forests and oceans…Who has the right to be here? Or maybe we all have the right to be here in this world of  duality.  Maybe we are all struggling souls.

    

  • What is the treatment?  Treatment?  Is treatment necessary?  What exactly are we treating?  Something that will continue to grow and take over my body and all its processes.  Something that is doing what it is designed to do at the expense of the “me” I know.  So many other aspects of my body have changed over the years, is this the final change?  Or can it be altered?  What is the right thing to do?  I sure don’t know what is best for me spiritually.  What is “Thy Will”?  What is best for my spiritual self?  What lessons are yet to be learned?  From what choice?  What is “Thy Will”? 

 

  • Surgery?  Initial difficult shock for the body then 6 weeks of rest at home, then a long scar downmby belly.  If they can get it all, that’s the end of it.  No cancer and no more uterus. And after all my uterus has done for me – what a shame.  This seems to be the course for now and then we’ll see.  Six weeks of rest sounds good – a chance to meditate and mull and relax at home where I love to be, looking out at the garden and the clouds drifting by and the birds twittering and the butterflies and bees  as they enjoy the flowers.  

 

  • Chemo?  Radiation?  We’ll wait and see about these possibilities until after the surgery is completed and the biopsy results are back.

 

  • How long a recovery?  Is there ever a full recovery?  Perhaps physically, but how about emotionally?  I would think that experience stays with you forever, particularly if it becomes part of your personal growth.  And I would hope that something of this nature becomes an aware-part of personal growth.  What is the point of it all if not?  Part of the process of having us ready to move out of this world when it is our time.  Dying to live – living to die.  The only choice can be “Thy Will be Done!”

 

I guess that’s all the questions I can think of now.  I’m sure that others will come to mind as I listen to the doctor’s replies.  But I had better not misplace this list.  They say that you have just a few minutes of the doctor’s attention, so I want to have the essential questions ready–the important medical questions the doctor will think are relevant.  The rest is up to me and “Thy Will.”            

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THE SHAPE SHIFTER

 Who am I? Who am I really?  What is my essence?  She wondered as she looked at herself in the puddle reflection.  She saw a pale child soaring through the skies, totally in tune with the white horse with silvery outstretched wings.  The puddle rippled and stilled, revealing a young woman in flowing white robes and moonstones circling her neck floating amongst the stars.  Yet she knew she was now perched on top of the slow-moving green-brown box turtle, a tiny woman with earth-tone skin.  And yet again, she was the middle aged (some would call her a senior citizen or maybe even a crone) much larger woman of pudgy features and developing wrinkles.  So, who am I, really?  Could I really be all of those people?  Have I been all of those people or am I now all of them, able to shift back and forth? 

For years, she had been aware of her ability to sometimes appear one way and sometimes another.  But it seemed that circumstances called forth the transformation: perhaps a winged horse and angel rider appearing at her grandparent’s upper floor apartment window ready to take her for a midnight ride around the city and the church steeple; perhaps a squirrel calling her to enter the tree hole and wind up scampering on the branches while feeding on sunflower seeds; perhaps the vastness of the ocean drawing her forth into the mer-person to swim and soar in the deep waters; perhaps the sounds of the Space-Between and the Sight of Him enticing her spirit-wisp towards That Star;  perhaps…; perhaps…; perhaps… all those other times when her form changed in response to some stimuli.

 

Or perhaps, there was no need for the stimuli to generate the transformation.  What if that shape-shifting ability was within herself?  Perhaps she could just visualize and become the shape she needed for further growth.  

 

She knew she needed quiet time to explore this facet of her being: quiet time to reflect on the best way to use her talent and not to squander it.  A place for her to come to discover who she really was; a place that was a healing haven.   Perhaps Lemuria was that place.

 

  
 
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A SQUIRREL’S WORLD

My fingers find it hard to plait the daisies into a chain.  Reacting to the weather, they are swollen as well as just being pudgy.  I remember having no trouble doing this until recently.  Someone is watching!  Who would be out here?  I slowly look up and glance around the circle of trees where I am sitting.  No one there.  A slight motion at the corner of my eye catches my attention and I peer closer to observe a small brown squirrel peeking out from a hole in the base of the oak tree.  He watches intently even as I glimpse his tail moving in the dark.  I don’t see any others—just the one.  Is this the greedy squirrel who always eats all the birdseed?

He seems to take a deep breath as he says, “If you are going to come, you better put your best clothes on.”  A talking squirrel?  How can it be?   He scampers a bit closer and turns sideways, his bushy tail seeming to beckon me on.  “Are you coming?  No time to wait.”  He moves into the dark opening.

“I won’t be able to fit.”  How is it I am talking to a squirrel, much less worrying about fitting into the rotted hole?  And if I need to follow there is no time to change clothes.  That doesn’t make any sense.

“Come, come.  No time.”  He disappears into the tree.

My curiosity aroused, I crawl over to the small opening and look inside.  Nothing there.  I cautiously extend my hand in to see how far back the hole goes.  As I do, I notice my hand appears to change, just like putting your hand in water and watching the refraction caused by different densities of air and water.  I pull it out and watch my tiny hand with thin fingers revert to a plumper hand with signs of aging.  In again, a little further, to see hand and arm shrink to.  Would the rest of me shrink, too?  Would I be flexible, once again, able to play like a child, to climb trees and run through the woods?  Like an adult able to climb onto the house roof to help build a chimney?

Without making any conscious decision, I surprised myself as I stood in the hole, not at all cramped.   What had looked to be pebbles on the ground just outside the tree-hole now appeared to be huge boulders out there. 

“Are you coming?” punctuated by a exasperated sigh.  I squinted into the inner recesses of the hole and discerned the squirrel with upraised tail – now bigger than I was.  For the first time I noticed how sharp and long the nails on his front feet were.  Gulp!  I’m so small – no match for an angry squirrel.

“Come!” he commanded, and started climbing up the inside of the tree.  I followed as best I could, grabbing onto protrusions formed by natural and, perhaps unnatural, means.  Sap and dirt clung to my hands and feet, dropping onto my clothes.  I was glad I hadn’t dressed in my best clothes.

Concentrating, to be sure I didn’t fall, I nearly bumped into him.  He stopped at another hole and then stepped out.  I followed, with more caution, but also curiosity.   My hands, for all the dirt and sap and activity, felt better than ever.  I could climb without my back hurting.  What happened to my glasses?

I flashed back remembering this: standing on a branch of the apple tree in the “little woods,” pausing to look around and see if I had time to climb higher to avoid detection in “hide and seek,” reveling in the smell of the apples and woods, observing green leaves against the blue sky, hearing the sounds of birds and squirrels scurrying about their business, feeling the tree bark as I held on.  Much of my childhood was spent here, delighting in the freedom of climbing trees, running through the woods, and building forts.  A welcome contrast to younger childhood years spent in an apartment being told not to make noise and disturb the sick man below.

I stepped out, balancing easily on the branch, following the squirrel who then said, “Watch how I do it.”  Before I knew it he threw the top part of himself off the branch as he held on with his hind feet.  His front paws grabbed the sunflower seeds in a green birdfeeder hanging from the tree.  One paw held onto the feeder tray for stability while the other stuffed sunflower seeds into his mouth.  A few quick mouth/nose wriggles and the hulls flew out, falling to the ground.  

He ate mouthfuls, then hoisted himself back upright.  “OK.  You try it while I get seed from the other feeder.  He trotted onto a smaller branch as it bent closer to a different feeder as he moved to the end.  He took a flying leap onto the top of the feeder, overshooting and falling to the rocky ground.  I gasped as he shook himself and then darted into the hole, reappearing at the top and heading out to do it again.

“Don’t watch me.  Get your own!”  He flew off again, judging the distance correctly this time.  I decided squirrels were use to getting their food while hanging upside down as I watched him as he hung upside down and gobbled seed.  The annoyed birds chirped their disdain for his gluttony and impatience to eat.

 A black-capped chickadee flew at my feeder, startling me, grabbed a seed and flew off like a ribbon waving in the breeze.  I always liked to watch them politely take one seed and fly away so other birds could also partake.  So unlike squirrels who gobble everything until nothing is left. 

I moved over to the feeder,  and sat down, with the branch close to the crease of my knees, slid back and let myself down as I did years ago when I would play on the monkey bars at school or in the trees.  Will I get nauseous? or fall down?  But as I viewed the world upside-down, I felt great.  Everything looked so different from this perspective.  So much more to wonder about.  I took a seed, broke the hull in my teeth, separated out the hull and ate the sunflower nut.  Delicious! And now I knew why squirrels seemed to be so greedy.  With all the work and energy it took of getting into position to do this, more than one seed needed to be eaten to make it worthwhile.  So I ate slowly.  My deliberate movements eased the fears of the birds so they started to come around even with me there.  A tufted titmouse even landed on my outstretched arm as a perch, finding it easier to reach the seeds.  I longed to stroke a bird but didn’t want to upset them.

I was so engrossed with the living, colorful bird collage I jumped when Mr. Squirrel appeared on the branch next to me.  He appeared to be upside down when in reality it was me.

“Well, do you understand now?  Why we gobble a lot?  I’ve heard you asking why as you filled the feeders, thinking we were greedy.  You used to chase us away from eating but have relented and allow us to ear from two of the feeders, at least.  You even greased the feeder poles but that only kept us away for a short time until the cold solidified whatever grease you used.  It takes a lot of work for us to get the seeds.” 

I had swung back upright so I was sitting next to him.  We watched the other two squirrels and the inordinate number of birds flitting about as they determined pecking order for eating.  They ignored me as if I were of no consequence… and at my present size, I wasn’t.  Tiny, covered with dirt and sap to which seed hulls were stuck, what could I do?  Well, I didn’t want to do anything but enjoy being a part of the picture I always enjoyed watching from my window.

“It’s getting dark.  Time to retire to my nest.  And you should go back.  Who knows what would find you a tasty morsel… an owl?  a raccoon or a possum?  even a snake?”

“Thank you for inviting me.  It’s been so wonderful.”  I pirouetted along the branch as I moved closer to the trunk.  I allowed myself to tumble down even as Mr. Squirrel ran up and over a few trees to his nest.

“Could I come again?  Maybe visit your nest?”

“We’ll see,” resounded faintly.

I danced around at the bottom in the hole, did a few back flips (because I could), then took a deep breath.  I inched out of the hole, watching my body revert to the now familiar bigger, heavier, aching body.  I found my glasses in the dirt. I picked up my daisy chain and hung it over the doorway, as an offering, a blessing, a hope.

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IDENTITY POEM

I am from German sauerbraten and Jewish chollah bread, from Easter eggs and matzo, from English roast beef and Russian borscht, from American cheese macaroni and English Yorkshire pudding and French crullers.  I am from a diversity of foods from the various cultures crisscrossing in my ancestry.

I am from a home with a white picket fence that I scraped and painted every summer, or so it seems.  A home where my mother was always there to love us unconditionally and welcome us home as she was available every day after school to listen; where my father was the only father on the block to play stick ball with all of us kids in the neighborhood, and took me to movies and museums; where the family all went camping, even making our own first tent, stitch by stitch, together.  I am from a family that camps and plays and works together and does many things “from scratch.”

I am from lilacs and lilies of the valley and violets in the house yard; from feeding pigeons and squirrels in the park; from don’t make any noise in the apartment to run free in the woods at the house; from apple trees and oaks in the woods; from asphalt on the city apartment roof to playing kick the can in the surburban street; from homemade jelly and pickles and breads and cakes; from handmade finished real-room for me and a schoolhouse for my dolls, and with a fort, a castle and paper-mache dinosaurs for my brothers (and thereby, also for me).

I am from a diverse cultural and religious family with roots through my mother’s mother of German Catholic and her father’s side of Jewish Russian.  My father’s side was English, Scotch and French Protestants.  My mother’s brother married the daughter of a Baptist minister.  My father’s large sibling family later consisted of an atheist, a Christian Scientist, a Catholic, 2 Protestants, and 2 agnostics.  I amalgamate all this, and delight in the differences. 

 

From my maternal strong-willed grandmother who in the early 1900’s as a teenager enjoyed being pulled around Central Park in New York City while sitting on a large block of ice, and a maternal retiring grandfather who, in his youth, rode a motorcycle and ran liquor during Prohibition, being shot at by the Coast Guard; from my tiny paternal grandmother the strength to raise 8 children (one died when young of whooping cough) with hardly any help or money, and a paternal grandfather who went out on strike in sympathy with other new subway-railroad employees in the early 1900’s in Manhattan and then stayed out in principal when everyone else returned to work after compromising safety issues, and spent the rest of his days at home being largely ignored by his struggling wife and children.

 I am from strong, independent and idealistic stock simmered in a well-seasoned sauce of love.  But with a sprinkling of fear also: fears of losing my father in World War II, about my mother, grandfather and I being killed if the Germans won because of our Jewish background, of being bombed by submarines lurking in the waters just off Manhattan; of fears of not having enough money to raise 5 children, of my never being perfect enough to always get 100 on tests, of speaking of that which contradicted the white picket fence image.  Strong enough to move away from birth family as my husband and I literally built our house ourselves, nail by nail; strong enough to move to Arkansas to hopefully live off the land and do everything “from scratch” once again; strong enough to leave after 33 years of marriage and create a new spirit-enhancing life for myself even as the fears emerge now and then. I am from tradition, even if diverse, with some eccentricity and individualism for a measure of spice.  I have taken these ingredients, re-combined them to make a very untraditional life for myself: a New Yorker now living in Arkansas, a former Catholic now a devotee of a spiritual teacher, a married woman with children into a woman now with children and grandchildren but also with a female soulmate, a stay-at-home mom into a full-time employee, a previously thin, active, athletic person into a heavier, older, grayer, more introspective, more interested in being than in doing, a seeker searching in many directions now a more balanced, well-rounded, individuated person. I am from many and now am becoming One. 

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