Headed into the chemo cave for the fifth time.
Trying to remember life before chemo and finding I really can’t. This last round after being deaccessed from the pump after the usual 46 hours, I could have sworn I was still hearing its snap, snap, snap right on through the weekend.
I’ve been amazed at how well timed various readings are that come before me on these chemo days.
Merton was once again right on time this morning with an entry entitled “As Night Descends.” So apropos for these chemo weeks with their sleepiness, their fading. It’s a night I must allow myself to sink into. His musing dates back to May, 1965. Vietnam, war, the bomb, protests, et al. It’s a good word for me in political and personal and even ecclesiastical connections. Perhaps it just might be good timing for a few of you today in your own settings:
I sweep. I spread a blanket in the sun. I cut grass behind the cabin. Soon I will bring the blanket in again and make the bed. The sun is overclouded. Perhaps there will be rain. A bell rings in the monastery. A tractor growls in the valley. Soon I will cut bread, eat supper, say psalms, sit in the back room as the sun sets, as the birds sing outside the window, as silence descends on the valley, as night descends.
As night descends on a nation intent upon ruin, upon destruction, blind, deaf to protest, crafty, powerful, unintelligent. It is necessary, to be not part of this, to be in the exile of silence, to be, in a manner of speaking, a political prisoner. No matter where in the world he may be, no matter what may be his power of protest, or his means of expression, the poet finds himself ultimately where I am. Alone, silent, with the obligation of being very careful not to say what he does not mean, not to let himself be persuaded to say merely what another wants him to say, not to say what his own past work has led others to expect him to say.
The poet has to be free from everyone else, and first of all from himself, because it is through this “self” that he is captured by others. Freedom is found under the dark tree that springs up in the center of the night and of silence, the paradise tree, the axis mundi, which is also the cross.
Good words. Sustaining words for me as I enter the cave, and find rest in its shadows.