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When Jane and I spoke at Books Inc. last week, one intriguing question that has stayed with me was about the gifts of cancer.  What were the gifts?   I’ve been germinating my thoughts and feelings around what more I might say, and then, today,  I come to this column by Jon Carroll. Here, most eloquently, is Jon Carroll.

On the subject of kindness, I will add that I began my introduction on July 7th at Books Inc. with this:

I met Jane in a workshop that she and Karen Roeper created called Eyes of the Beholder.  The intention of that workshop is to see ourselves more kindly, and through that, to see others and the world more kindly as well.  When I was diagnosed with cancer, my intention was to extend that kinder view of myself and others to my cancer.  Could I use gentleness in my visualizations rather than envisioning a battle or fight?   What could I learn?

When she heard of my cancer diagnosis, Jane called immediately to ask what she could do.   I said, “Write with me!”   And so we began.

“It takes two to speak truth – One to speak, and another to hear.”

– Henry David Thoreau

When Jane and I spoke Wednesday night at Books Inc. I was struck by the quality of attention, the leaning in and inward to listen.  I think that is why I felt we created spiritual space.  One woman shared her experience with cancer.  I came home and wrote what I felt about the quality of attention, the witnessing we shared.


my need

pollen held

Thanks to all who attended the reading and all who were there in spirit, and perhaps that includes us all.  It was a beautiful event and as Jane and I have said when we wrote together, we felt the entry of something more than the two of us, so last night was more than the many who gathered.

I am touched by the suffering of others, with the pain that was shared,  and with what it means to gather in community to support each other at the deepest levels, the most full.  I feel an emptying of my heart, as though it is being scooped out to hold the lightness of such love, and also a fullness as though I might never need to eat again, and, of course, I will.

I give thanks.

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Cathy and Jane started writing together during Cathy's illness, and that writing became a blog, which then became a book!

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