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A good friend just told me about Brookside Buzz.

I just read this first post and then went to the blog to see what is up now. The blog is beautifully presented, and is full of silver linings. I just ordered The Precious Moment by Spencer Johnson M.D.

She offers quotes, photos, and an attitude of honesty and clarity. It is odd for me to read of her journey, and again, brings up the preciousness of this moment, this.

A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live.
-Bertrand Russell

I recommend her blog and wish her the gentle best.

I am deeply touched by Mirka Knaster’s post.

I pause now to receive her words as I continue to set intention in my exploration and inquiry into the path of equanimity.

I suppose each woman is sobered right now at the news of the death of Elizabeth Edwards. As might be obvious, I am a believer in positive thinking and yet her passing is hitting me hard. Why her, and of course we might ask that about anything that happens, everything that happens, and yet, tonight, I feel myself pull in as I reflect on the preciousness of this moment, this night, this day.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude this Thanksgiving Eve. Five years ago I was in chemotherapy and nauseous. We gathered at the Mountain Home Inn for Thanksgiving dinner and despite sitting by the fire and the loving care, it was tough. This year my sons prepare a feast, and I look out on this Thanksgiving Eve and the sun is just touching the needles of the redwood tree, touching some of the needles, the upper needles facing east. Some of the tree is in light and some is still dark. Now, a piece of the upper trunk is touched. I breathe in the warmth, my heart touched, caught in the fire as it ricochets.

This year, for each of us, there may be something different, shade or sun, branch or root, and yet we are each one whole tree, sharing earth and air. I feel the weight sometimes of this five years I’ve been given, as though there is an extra demand on me as to purpose and paying back, and I also see how easy it is to receive the light.

Now I hear the gobbling of a flock of turkeys who live and roam nearby. They are safe. A table saw starts up. Neighbors are trying to finish outdoor work. There is silence and noise, light and dark, peace and turmoil, and it is for each of us, through it all, to know the ladle of grace.

I find myself remembering back to five years ago when I was recovering from surgery and contemplating the beginning of chemotherapy.  I felt like life was a game of musical chairs and there was no chair for me, but then, I realized we make our own circle.  We make our own circle, moment by moment, day by day.

It is about being, being in the moment, immersed in the beauty and connection we are.

Winston Churchill wrote:  “The further backward you look, the further forward you can see.”

Look forward and back.  This moment is harvest and seed.

Last night I heard a woman speak about the wonderful O’Henry story, Last Leaf.  If you have not read it, here is a chance to do so.

She spoke of how each of us has a masterpiece to contribute, and it is not for us to judge how big or small our masterpiece may be.

The story shows the power of belief.  We set up tests for ourselves.  If this happens, then, that, and often that is true, and other times, something more comes in and that is spirit, the touch and place of the Divine.

We are graced with a tongue that is often used to flap and chat, but I think of the five senses we sometimes forget how important it has been to our survival to taste.  Taste tells us if water is safe to drink, if it is safe to bathe, to immerse.    We taste not just with our tongue.  Each cell has a capacity to discern.

May today be one where we resonate to the following words using all we are to taste, evolve, immerse.

The winds of grace are blowing all the time. You have only to raise your sail.

– Ramakrishna / Mystic / 1836-1886

Perhaps we each have our own definition of courage, our own examples.  I wonder if it is easier to identify in others than in ourselves.  I spoke with a woman last night who will ride a double century on her bicycle this weekend. She will ride from Seattle to Portland in two days, 200 miles, a ride to benefit leukemia and lymphoma.  She is inspired by those who have gone through chemotherapy and radiation.  I am inspired by her.

I resonate to this definition of courage.  Perhaps I can see myself here.

“With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity. “

– Keshavan Nair

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.

Bill Moyers chose Barry Lopez for his last interview.  I admire both men.  You can read the interview here:

I chose the following excerpt because I believe in the importance of our use of language in how we speak to ourselves and others. I believe in the power of the word.  Kazumasa San is a storyteller, like Barry Lopez.  It is for each of us to ingest his advice and “take care of the spiritual interior of the language,”  to be a caretaker for the vessel, the word, and use it for healing ourselves, relationships and the world.

BARRY LOPEZ: And Kazumasa San said to me, “Your work is to take care of the spiritual interior of the language.” And he said in Japanese this word we use, kotodama, means that each word has within it a spiritual interior. The word is like a vessel that carries something ineffable. And you must be the caretaker for that. You must be careful when you use language to look at every part of the word and make sure that you’re showing respect for it in the place that you’ve given it to live in the sentence.

But I see all of us engaged in the same thing. And that is the invention of the story. And the story to me is the brilliance of storytelling is that it’s the only and the best protection we have against forgetting.

I think, what is at the core of every story. I mean, how many novels have you put down and said to yourself, “Oh, I never knew that.” Mostly you know it all, but you forget it. And you close a book and you say, “I knew that, but I’d forgotten it. And I am so glad to be reminded of what I intend to do and who I am. And what– and how I want to conduct myself in the world.”

Where I start from is ethical responsibility to an audience. The creation of something that is as beautiful as you can make it. And that in some way ensures that what we dream, what we really desire, not for ourselves, because that’s what you do when you’re a kid, but for children- how will you ensure some possibility here by making sure we don’t forget where we’re going or what we’re up to.

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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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