Monday, December 5, 2011

The Thing with Feathers

I want to be angry. I just don't know where to direct it. Angry isn't like sad. With anger, you feel that you could do something.

Should I rage at the chemical companies, the hormone companies, the polluters, for possibly harming my friend? Is it the doctors, the medical industry, for failing to find out what was wrong? Should I be angry at her family for giving her some sketchy DNA? I just don't know. All I know is she's under 30 and facing some scary odds. I didn't know how scary until I looked it up today.

Can I justify what's happening to her? Not really. I could say that Kali just loves her that much or Cerridwen is transforming her in her enchanted cauldron. While it may be true, it doesn't show the mercy of a friend. And my religion is more about kindness to my kindred than the grand plans of some wiser being; what is wiser than love?

At least my faith doesn't require me to look happy all the time. At this point in my life, that would be too much to bear.  Still, I can't scowl this away. Complaints--and money thrown along with them--may improve the longevity of future cancer patients, but I'm more concerned about this one, right here, right now.

If I can't complain it away, I also can't ribbon it away. If I were the guy from the movie Jeffrey who wore a jacket covered with awareness ribbons of every color in the rainbow, I could make all of them teal and it wouldn't bring my friend one more day of health.

Can I help her get better? Maybe by surprise. That sounds better than no.

When I do energetic work on someone with cancer, I get a distinct sensation. It's like pouring water into a bucket with a big hole. No filling up. No sticking to the sides. Any other time, I'd feel someone brimming over or perhaps bouncing back like bread dough after kneading. Some sort of signal that you're done, at least for now. I don't get that feeling here. (I'll still work the work, of course.)

It's strange not to even be able to know for sure of something I can do to make a difference.

And for this one situation, for this one friend, it's not enough to say 'I don't know' and be calm about it.

Now, it's true that every moment we are alive is a gift, a miracle, possibly a fluke but a wondrous one. The fact that it happens for any length of time is startling. Who is to say how long any one of us has?

It is beyond my control.

Where is hope, that 'thing with feathers that perches in the soul'?

I think of Adah, the genius wounded healer in The Poisonwood Bible, who found she could finally reach that thing with feathers with her one good hand, but only after it had fallen.

Yet I reach out, beyond my grasp, so that my friend may stand.

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