Where Ground Meets Sky; From Dark to Light

Recovering from radiation was a lot.

It got so painful that I was at an 8-10 on the pain scale several days in January. I can imagine suffering from nuclear radiation to be the cruelest and meanest pain ever. While rubbing the two different prescription ointments on to my breast and underarm I thought about images from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I imagined those that were there, the burning on their skin. I felt like I was living with a bomb that went off inside my body. I am obviously not a physicist, so I have no idea how to explain radiation levels and differences between a bomb and a radiation machine. All I know is, that’s not how I wanna go. If the DEFCON level for nuclear threat is level 2, it’s time to check out of this astral plane.

Yeah, I get dark fast.

I have been-deeply thoughtful. I’ve also been having some deep conversations with Jess. They’re necessary and good conversations to have, but very vulnerable and challenging. To quote my child Piper, at age 4, “What do we all want for ourselves?” has been the topic of our conversations. Main Idea: we want to be ourselves, together. Easy and hard. We’re 50, we’ve lived a little. And we want to grow as individuals and be able to do that while also loving the other person.

That talk space takes a lot of thinking and growing and patience and stillness and time.

So between radiation burns and antibiotics and starting to take the oral chemo meds and paying attention to any different symptomatic physical sensations I have, I’ve felt like a human science experiment. And that was before my heart told me to go deeper and have “big talks” with Jess.

I was about to say I feel like I have nothing to show for January 2021. I don’t have huge amounts of writing done. I haven’t made much.

[Jennifer, you are being preposterous.]

Are you laughing? I hope so. My thinking that I’m lazy is totally ridiculous. Last weekend was the first one in three months that I felt like I could actually do much sustained physical activity beyond teaching. I’ve spent a lot of couch time, but it’s been anything but insubstantial or useless.

So I go inside. I paused today to consider.

Today is Imbolc, or Brigid’s feast day. It is the Gaelic rite of spring, halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Her story can be connected to that of Persephone and Demeter in Greek mythology or Innana and Erishkigal in Sumerian mythology. Today has the promise of spring ahead, but also the deep work of transformation beneath the surface of the soil to be reborn. Going into our own underworld and pushing back the brackken of our interior world during the winter is a necessary annual rite of passage.

So please.

Take this space.

Breathe in the cold air.

Sit on a chair or log or bench chilled by the rain or snow and ice.

Walk outside until you can feel the tingle of cold on your extremities.

Imagine now you are deep in the underworld.

Like Inanna you must shed your belongings at each gate.

You must give away all that you do not need to survive.

You meet yourself in your interior, your spirit of sister.

Your Erishkigal challenges you to leave it. Leave it here.

Make peace with the interior as you stand stripped of all you do not need, naked.

Claim your birthright. Own your power.

Return to the world.

Return new.


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