Sunday, August 28, 2016

Why Write About Cancer?

I have been asked many times why I write about cancer, and I have told the story of this blog—about how frustrated I was when no one would talk to me or my husband about sex while facing cancer.

And I write a lot: I write the blog, “Women in Recovery”, and the books: “Looking for Signs” (A collection of essays) and “Out of the Woods” (about women in Twelve-step recovery), and
recently, “Never Leave Your Dead” (about military trauma and family trauma and redemption).
And I write newspaper columns for the Albany Times Union and many other papers...

But why write at all? Maybe this quote from James Baldwin says just enough about why:

“You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world…The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter it, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.”   (James Baldwin)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Beach Surrender

We went to Cape Cod this weekend. In the morning I go to the beach alone to pray. My favorite beach prayer involves writing the names of each person I’m thinking about on the edge of the shore and watching as the tide comes in and gradually takes those prayers out to sea.

This weekend I wrote the names of all of our family members --his and mine, adults and kids, parents, exes, kids and their spouses too. I wrote his name and my name and the people I work with. It’s a lot of writing and a way of surrendering each person that I love
and even the people that I fuss with in my head.

 I live in the gap between wanting to make a complete surrender, making that surrender for an instant or a moment and then, seeing, even as I walk aback to my car how worry returns and how quickly my tendency to control is already back in my head.

Surrender is such an imperfect process but it is a process. I really do wonder about people who say they made their surrender once and it’s all done. Do they really never worry again? Worry means that I still think I can affect an outcome. Curiosity might be the antithesis of worry. Being able, after surrender, to wonder: “I wonder how God is going to play this one out?”

Maybe this worry of mine too is something I need to surrender.

Over and over I surrender and return. It’s familiar. The ocean’s rhythm: in and out, in and out, washing, soothing, wearing me down. Creating surrender.