October 14, 2012

North Cairn: Bad time, or bump in the road?

(Continued from page 1)

And looked out the open windows until it got so cold that I lay in bed one midnight, wearing fleece and a hand-knit muffler under a sea of quilts and coverlets that looked like mounds of snow.

I knew it was Maine calling, but 250 miles south of Kittery, I left the windows open and a box fan blowing (to cover the sounds of mice moving into the cellar for the winter and skittering over familiar highways in the wall).

I was as inert as a quahog, my swollen toes protruding like a mollusk's siphon from my cast.

But all around me were the sounds of the abandoned cranberry bog and the marsh leading to open water.

I could close my eyes and see the osprey keening overhead, the great blue heron standing erect, straight as a piling, at the end of the pier near the hospital where I had been transformed into something like an egret myself.

Now perched on one leg only, I was left to scan the murk for signs of life.

We pray to the gods of our own understanding, and mine have wings.

So, over the week, I kept calling to them in my mind, to the storks, cranes, curlews and godwits -- the skilled hunters of the shorelines -- asking for grace and agility returned.

My recurrent chant was one of gratitude, much as I was frustrated by being hobbled.

For I was not lying, blown to bits of bone, in a refugee camp in the Third World; nor was I languishing in an oncology unit, watching the drip of someone else's blood keeping me alive.

Planes that occasionally roared overhead were coming in low to Hyannis, not Halabja, and the hardest thing I had to do all week was suffer the indignities of too much entitlement and a sedentary life.

My discomfort wasn't even a bump in the road.

I was never without help, which is the only way to keep hope and healing aloft.

Sometimes it takes being broken to remember -- amid the great wealth and privilege most of us enjoy -- that the essential elements of survival can be counted near at hand: compassionate interdependency, helpful community, a world worth getting back to, a welcome home. 

North Cairn can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:



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