Friday, March 19, 2010

"Life is a very narrow bridge. The important thing is not to be afraid" Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav

Today I took a break from preparing for a sudden trip to Vancouver to see a less vital father, so sad, so sad. Today I walked away from a conversation with myself about transplants and leukemia and the pep talk to build the energy needed to stare down the demons a second time. Today I stayed out of the storm left in the wake of my Washington Times op-ed that has cost me some friends and opened my eyes to what I needed to see. Today I quit reading medical education articles to mark up and sharpen.

Today instead I listen for a little over an hour to the poetry of David Whyte, and he reminded me that I must step out of the safety of the boat, that a courageous step is one taken when there is no certainty that the surface will hold me, and faith has more to do with focus and purpose than a fixed set of beliefs.

I have traveled far in the last month in every sense of the word, and tomorrow I am getting on a plane to hold the hand my sick father.

I will share the stories from Israel and Giza and our harrowing crossing the Sinai, from Stanford and Sea Ranch, from the Honda Center and from White Rock, Canada, from my sufficient platelets to my hungry soul.

I promise. For my own sake.

It will help me focus. It will force me to step out of the boat onto the surprising supportive surface of the water of the Kinneret.

Here is a poem that I first heard David read, though it is not his work. Enjoy


The Journey


One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice-
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations, though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
but little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do-
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver, Dream Work, Grove Atlantic Inc., 1986 & New and Selected Poems, Beacon Press, 1992.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Karen said...

My prayers for your father and for you. I want you to know that I pray for you earnestly for healing almost every day. I also want you to know that I really appreciated your article and forwarded the link to my family. We are dismayed by what is happening in Washington, where "representatives" of the people are so despotic. As one who has benefitted greatly from health care in America (even without insurance help is there if you know what to do or have someone to help you), the takeover is a terrible lie. I think probably you will be added to the prayer lists of some more people because I sent the link. Take care my friend and keep fighting. I am sorry that your father is ill. That is so hard. My father passed 31 years ago and I still miss him. Perhaps it is not your father's time. I will pray so and that your visit will bring strength and comfort to both of you. Karen

March 20, 2010 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger Judy Cleri said...

Dear Dr. K,

I am so sorry to hear of your Father's illness.......please know you will be in our prayers.

I'm also sorry to hear that your had anti feedback on your article in the Washington Times. I thought it was a great article. You pointed out both sides elquently.

Wishing you a safe trip and some wonderful times with your Father.

Blessing,

Judy C

March 20, 2010 at 4:15 PM  

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