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Showing posts from August, 2016

Being Mortal

Four times a year I go into one of the Southern Medical Laboratories offices and have a sample of blood taken. Someone in a lab somewhere then measures my levels of cholesterol, blood sugar and uric acid. And they look for the one I am really interested in: my levels of Prostate Specific Antigen. PSA is produced only by the prostate gland, and seeing as I have had mine removed, if there is any PSA in my bloodstream it can have come from only one source: prostate cancer cells that have drifted off through my lymph system and are now lodged and growing in some unknown part of my body. About three years ago my PSA levels, while still comparatively low, were increasing alarmingly, doubling every four months or so in a pattern which, if not  dealt with would have proven imminently fatal. My urologist started me on a course of hormone injections which reduced the levels immediately to zero, where they have stayed since. While the hormones deal to the overwhelming majority of cancer cell

The Inner Voice of Love

I was pointed to this remarkable book by someone who knows the geography of my soul pretty well. This, the last of Henri Nouwen's many books is a series of excerpts from a journal he kept during a painful and difficult time in his life. After a career as a world renowned scholar and spiritual writer, in 1987 Nouwen became the pastor of L'Arche, a community for people with intellectual impairment in Toronto. Soon after moving there, an important relationship led him to a place of profound spiritual growth, but also  through a period in which he lost his sense of self worth, his sense of  being loved and even his faith in God. This period of deep growth and anguish gave rise to one of his most highly regarded books, The Return of The Prodigal Son , but he regarded his journal as too raw, too personal for public consumption. Near the end of his life he was persuaded to allow the wisdom from this period to be shared, and I am glad he was courageous enough to do so. The Inner V


  The sun is rising on our last morning in Sydney. Outside are the calls of tree frogs and unfamiliar birds. Inside there are some few soft, brief whimpers from Zoe as she moves in her sleep and soon there will be the padding of Naomi's feet on the stairs. My son Nick lives in Five Dock, in the part of the city known as the Inner West where he and Charmayne have a four bedroom two bathroom house about 30 minutes by car or bike or train from Nick's office in the Quay area.  We have been here almost a week, meeting our newest grandchild and celebrating Naomi's 5th birthday. There has been a picnic and a few brief trips in the car, but mostly we've been pretty domestic. There have been many contented hours when I've been left holding the baby, and many more being cast in one of Naomi's games. Clemency's roles in these dramatic productions involve the two women, separated in age by a mere 59 years, sitting side by side, placing small plastic dolls into modestly


I woke at 4 this morning and lay thinking about the day ahead, the day when my grand daughter Zoe would be born. Across the Tasman, in Sydney, my daughter in law would still be sleeping, I hoped, ready for the huge day ahead. I had Skyped with her and Nick and Naomi last night and she looked so tired and so uncomfortable in the last hours of her great task. Nick was calm and focused. Naomi was transferring her energies into a game she had devised; "the opposite game" where she made statements which were the opposite of what she wanted to say. Hi Grandma (meaning Grandpa), I'm very sad to see you. Things are bad here in Sydney, I'm very unexcited....  Charmayne's parents arrived while we were talking, in order to collect Naomi for the night. We greeted and made small talk (what do you say at such a poignant moment?) made our farewells, then waited for this latest one of us to arrive. Which she did, at about 9:30 this morning, our time. Zoe Yin-Mei. It is suc

Endings and Beginnings

A few weeks ago, Noah started kindy. He's an open, friendly little guy and has no trouble socialising. He's adventurous, curious and intelligent and is always up for some new and interesting experience, so getting him along to a place with a sandpit full of diggers, scheduled morning tea and lots of other kids was no big problem. A week or so later though, a penny dropped for him that kindy wasn't so much a welcome break in his usual routine as a whole new routine in itself and that's where he balked. Poor wee guy. He was having his first immersion in  this pattern which we all repeat time and time and time again. Life is a constant series of endings and new beginnings. We start something or we join something or we learn something and the something suits us well. We get adept at it and comfortable in it and, if we are lucky, enjoy it. Then it ends and we leave it and pick up in its place something unfamiliar in which we are, once again, a neophyte. Kindy. Junior sch