I’m sitting in the middle of my screened-in-porch while thunders roars to my east, and wind swooshes from my west. The sound of the rain is as deafening as, just an hour ago, the sound of the cicadas, roaring so loudly that our conversation with friends had an added soundtrack. September poured in with the storms last night after a week of big heat, and now, there’s another storm, reminding me how much can change so fast.
For the last week, I’ve felt like many in my community were living in a cancer minefield. A close friend’s adult daughter, facing stage 4 liver cancer, pours heart and soul into what her family calls an ultimate healing journey. A dear one navigates difficult days and nights with advanced breast cancer. Another friend faces complex treatments for prostate cancer, and another endures the reality of an unstoppable cancer growing slowly in his spine. News of diagnoses land in my heart in the bakery or at a gathering, across the Facebook feed and through the phone lines. Knowing that one in three of us will have or already has had some form of cancer is knowing that we live in a cancer epidemic, but most of the time, the urgency of this crisis doesn’t drive the bus of my life.
I have no doubt based on research and the wisdom of many who have studied this extensively as to how much this epidemic comes from what we as a species have done to this earth. How could we not be shaped and infused by our poisoning of air, water, earth? Stephanie Mills, one of my favorite writers, says it well:
Our behavior toward the land is an eloquent and detailed expression of our character, and the land is not incapable of reflecting these statements back. We are perfectly bespoken by our surroundings.
So there is this: dear ones trying new combinations of traditional chemotherapy and holistic medicines, or just trying to feel their way in the dark through what’s unfolding, healing whether or not a cure is possible, in their time. But there is also this: an early autumn rain, and the sound of that rain as well as the air it permeates blessing whatever and whoever it touches.
The rain reminds me that my job is to open my eyes and heart, easier when the weather is luscious and my community is thriving. How we treat one another, how we treat ourselves, matters even more when the stakes are high, losses unfathomable, and beauty of simply being alive so exquisite. The sweetness of this moment, as well as the snippets of sweetness in the hardest moments, lands everywhere. The rain lessens, then stops with all its remnants dripping from the edge of the porch and steady trees. A cricket makes its music. I wait between the words I write, loving as best I can.