Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mary, Spun of Golden Sunlight

Mary is a classy woman in Atlanta – a smart woman in her 40s, an animal lover, gardener, a sensitive woman. Mary's life has been dedicated to healing others, and her work in community service and charitable organizations is praised. She is beautiful inside and out, flaxen hair falling about her face in its journey past her shoulders, and wide-open eyes which speak the music of the inner self she carries. When I am in her presence, I sense her heart as if it is a separate party in the room. She wears love on her face. It is liquid in her voice, and it languishes in her body. Words spill off her tongue in tones which soothe those who listen. Humor is her friend, and she uses it to change a mood when hope seems lost amidst pain and fear. Visits to Mary’s office are like trips for ice cream on hot Sunday afternoons – whatever is rustling your reserve can disappear with the first taste.

Mary became my doctor first and my friend as time passed. I went to her in significant pain, feeling hopeless to change the course of events which were playing roulette with my life. I wanted to be worry and pain free. Soon a bride-to-be with a lover who had turned my life upside down with joy and tenderness, I was stuck in a body screaming at me. The love which we shared was such a rich blessing, and I wanted to fully enjoy this time in our lives. I wanted to climb pain-free onto the private yacht where our wedding would take place on a warm summer's night on Puget Sound. I had a busy agenda during the next 6-8 months with a wedding and a relocation to Seattle to plan. My spirits were sinking, anchored somewhere between depression and my chronic pain which burned like a hot iron on tender flesh.

Mary came into the room of our first meeting, radiating cheerfulness with a huge smile that pulled her lips wide. She asked me many questions and carefully listened to every word I spoke. When I finished my tale with chin quivering and tears glistening on my cheeks, Mary put her arms around me, hugged me close, and said she had magic tricks and she knew she could help me. Within the hour she proceeded to move through several modalities of treatment bringing my rigid and ropey muscles to more flexibility. She and I began a treatment regimen that afternoon which continues. Even though we now live in Seattle, we travel 2673 miles twice a year to visit friends and family, and one of the first things on our agenda is to SEE Mary. Time spent with Mary is like revisiting a book you love or listening to a story which soothed you as a child. There is much joy, lots of squeals, giggles, squeezes, and snuggly hugs as soon as my husband and I arrive. He loves her as much as I do.

Since our relocation to Seattle, Mary and I keep in touch by e-mail correspondence, sharing the news of our lives. My husband and I have eagerly awaited her first visit to the Pacific NW. Shortly after we left Atlanta, Mary fell in love with another doctor we also know and love. This news sparked a big celebration for us who were both excited to hear of their joy. How thrilling it has been to see Mary happy and to know she is sharing her life with someone who values her, respects and loves her in every way that she deserves! The glow she wears could compete with the full sun on a beach at high noon as she talks about the rewarding blessings in her life and the joy she finds in each day. She now lives with love and devotion and the enchanting dreams and plans of their tomorrows. A mountain retreat, puppies shared and loved, mutual friends whose joy of this exciting merger could be heard all over town, and finally an office practice together – these things now decorate their lives.

Recently our electricity went out leaving us in total darkness on a windy, late-winter's night early in March. My husband’s cell phone also makes a wireless connection to the internet. I asked him to check my mail while he was online. "A letter from Mary," he said, and I asked him to read it to me. This letter brought the first news that Mary has a brain tumor, an inoperable brain tumor. The words stuck in my mind – eyes fixed upon my husband’s face, searching for some sign that this was not true, registering the words, then searching again. Stunned, I sat in my chair momentarily mute. Hearing that Mary was going through this very scary medical emergency, almost 3,000 miles away, made me long for the Atlanta I had not missed before now. Oh, I had missed the friends, but never the city. Now I wanted the familiar city, wanted to be close enough to feel like I was “close.” I wanted to be able to see Mary with my own eyes.

Since that night, she has had a shunt put into her brain to relieve the pressure. There is no definitive medical plan at this moment while she and her partner research the best alternatives and the best medical facilities to handle this situation. Friends, family, and patients alike have joined together to form a huge network of love and support. Mary is adored by people everywhere. She is a lamp of hope and love in so many people’s lives, a giver of health and promise. It is no wonder she is loved in such huge proportion, an amount that seems to surprise her as she is washed in it daily. She is basking in this love, finding solace when her heart is heavy, watching the detour signs, layering talk about tomorrow with medical terms about tumor shrinkage instead of simply focusing on the mountain cabin they are building. She is focused now on living. She is cared-for and caregiver. Everyone must be worried, but we keep a chin up and a positive attitude. All I know for sure is how my heart feels. It aches at the prospect of this extraordinary woman being in any peril, this woman who has been a savior to so many, whose loving heart has been given away more times than she can count, to so many of us.

Please add Mary to your prayer list, to your thoughts, to your wish list. Send her good energy filled with healing words and images. Imagine her head filled with joy and wisdom in such great proportion that this tumor is pushed away and reduced in power and mass. Join us please in sending loving thoughts and healing energy to this amazing woman, this healing force who has given so much life to so many. She is the wondrous face of hope and love – she is MARY.

Photgraphy, Digital Art, and Rendering shown above are from our private collection.

Art Courtesy of Photographer and Artist, Nguyen Ngoc Danh, Sacramento, California

Golden Threads

Memories of mornings when your blonde hair
shone lustrous, spun like you
of golden threads and sunlight,
dance quietly across my visits with the past,
when pain was constant
and you were there; always there.

Love dressed in such a tiny package then,
vibrant motion, healer that you are.
From every cell the healing trickled out,
while fingers kneading new life
for the needy, coaxed broken
bodies back to whole again.

You walk this earth, with sight projected far
to see beyond what lies upon the path
and let your intuition guide you forward
to nurture spirits, cleanse
the body’s chaos, remove the blocks
which keep the bones ajar.

You’ve been the hope, the dream, the gentle peace
for morning's comfort or in
the evening's light that’s cast upon
the glowing limbs, as redwoods bid goodnight
to one more sun and bid a new
one’s rise for dawn’s release.

With love we come as one to sing your praise
while you are fighting for
your days ahead amidst us all whose lives
you have changed. We reignite
the loving touch you gave and send it
back to heal and light your days.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Poetry Thursday - Sexton


Be careful of words,
even the miraculous ones.
For the miraculous we do our best,
sometimes they swarm like insects
and leave not a sting but a kiss.
They can be as good as fingers.
They can be as trusty as the rock
you stick your bottom on.
But they can be both daisies and bruises.

Yet I am in love with words.
They are doves falling out of the ceiling.
They are six holy oranges sitting in my lap.
They are the trees, the legs of summer,
and the sun, its passionate face.

Yet often they fail me.
I have so much I want to say,
so many stories, images, proverbs, etc.
But the words aren't good enough,
the wrong ones kiss me.
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
but with the wings of a wren.

But I try to take care
and be gentle to them.

~ Anne Sexton ~

             1928 - 1974
Anne Sexton, acclaimed confessional poet, was the 1967 Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry. A close friend of poet Maxine Kumin, and a colleague and friend of Sylvia Path, Sexton wrote poetry about her life as a woman, her depression and torment. It was poetry that kept her alive: she suffered from mental illness and alcoholism for years, making 2 attmepts on her life. Despite her success as a poet and speaker, she finally did kill herself at age 46 in the garage of her MA home; death by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Photography Credit: Anne Sexton Photograph; Rollie McKenna, photographer;
University of Pennsylvania, Photographs of American Poetry Review Records,

Words: How important they are...these utterances which keep us connected and give us language by which we speak, write, teach, learn, invent, search, collaborate, find commonality and differences, create community, share lives, and make love. These most enchanting of tools can become the most hurtful at the turn of a letter or tone. We are always charged with remembering how powerful words can be, how selection is critical to the moment, to the truth, and to the heart.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Poetry Thursday - Wordsworth

Photograph: From our private collection


I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

~William Wordsworth~

William Wordsworth, celebrated British poet and England's poet laureate in 1843, was orphaned by age 13 and was largely disinterested in academics. His friendship with Samuel Coleridge, in conjunction with a financial grant bestowed him at a friend's death, marked the beginning of his devotion to poetry. Around 1791 Wordsworth traveled to France and met a woman with whom he had an illegitimate daughter. He supported this child financially though he returned to England in 1792 and later married his childhood friend, fathering 5 children. By the end of his life Wordsworth, the most celebrated poet in the world, was considered primary to the English Romantic movement, characterized by writing which focused largely on relationships with nature.

Wordsworth is buried with his wife, who died 9 years later, at Grasmere churchyard, in Grasmere, Cumbria, the northernmost village in the Lake district of England.
Wordsworth wrote "Daffodils" in 1804, the first poem I remember memorizing as a young student.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Poetry Thursday - Levertov

Photography: Rattlesnake Ridge, Washington,
From our private collection


Brilliant, this day – a young virtuoso of a day.
Morning shadow cut by sharpest scissors,
deft hands. And every prodigy of green –
whether it's ferns or lichens or needles
or impatient points of buds on spindly bushes –
greener than ever before. And the way the conifers
hold new cones to the light for the blessing,
a festive right, and sing the oceanic chant the wind
transcribes for them!
A day that shines in the cold
like a first-prize brass band swinging along
the street
of a coal-dusty village, wholly at odds
with the claims of reasonable gloom.

~ Denise Levertov ~

© 1999 Denise Levertov, from The Great Unknowing: Last Poems

      Denise Levertov, 1923-1997
Born in England, Levertov and her husband emigrated to the US in 1948 where she taught at Brandeis, MIT, Tufts, UW, and Stanford. A celebrated American poet, she published 20 books of poetry. Inspired by Mt. Rainier, she lived in Seattle from 1982 until her death.

            © David Geier Photography

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Poetry Thursday - Tagore

Anh cua Nguyen Ngoc Danh

My Song

This song of mine will wind its music around you,
my child, like the fond arms of love.

The song of mine will touch your forehead
like a kiss of blessing.

When you are alone it will sit by your side and
whisper in your ear, when you are in the crowd
it will fence you about with aloofness.

My song will be like a pair of wings to your dreams,
it will transport your heart to the verge of the unknown.

It will be like the faithful star overhead
when dark night is over your road.

My song will sit in the pupils of your eyes,
and will carry your sight into the heart of things.

And when my voice is silenced in death,
my song will speak in your living heart.

~Rabindranath Tagore~

Rabindranath Tagore, 1851-1941
He is the most revered Indian writer of modern literature. A poet, a novelist, and an educator, Tagore also became a painter late in life. He was a composer and set many of his poems to music. Born into a political family Tagore was an advocate of independence for India. Internationally acclaimed, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Although he wrote his most important works in Bengali, he often translated his poems into English.