Sunday, May 31, 2009

They Pray for Us, Prey for Us

I met Doctor Tiller in Canada.
He guided me through the process of digoxin injection over a fascinating pregnant-belly model with needles and ultrasound. His hands were warm. He was patient and attentive and described me as a natural in my approach to pumping salve into the umbilical cord and heart of a mock fetus.
Never mind that I was simply curious and was not licensed to utilize his fascinating skill and wanted to touch his hands.
He sat next to me in Minneapolis, MN, during a session regarding patient counseling at an annual meeting. During the Q &A, he was offered a spotlight to share his vast insight. He stood statuesque, valiant and jolly and urged us to proceed fearless, with love bountiful in our hearts.
When the session concluded, he offered me a few of his precious moments: we shook hands warmly and with energy and I asked with tears welling—who would provide when he no longer provided. He assured me the outcome was faith-full, that others would carry-on.
I rode in the elevator with him during our annual meeting in Portland, OR, in April. He wore his usual leather coat and sense of balance and compassion. He asked me of my evening in the city. Relentless lawsuits, harassment and recent clinic vandalism aside, he was calm. Carrying on.
He was shot point-blank in his church lobby this sun beaming morning. He was ushering and his wife was singing and they killed him in their place of peace.
I’ve had a creeping sense that something terrible would happen. I’ve begun to fear the safety of my clinic as anti-abortion extremists begin to lose their grounding in political clout but I didn’t imagine Dr. Tiller in this sense of doom. He seemed to glide through relentless opposition spiritually unscathed. I imagined him until 100. With years of peace to follow his tireless battle to be subtly, significantly good.
I could only give him these things in my merciless hope for magic: roses from the bishop’s garden, prayers 38-40 in the Bethlehem Chapel by the Way of Peace in the National Cathedral, the sunshine, the drum circle, the half moon.
Oh, Dr. Tiller. I will miss how I adore your daily perseverance, your swift and enlightening presence, your hands. Your eternal and expansive heart.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Play and Repeat

I bought a Neti pot because my older sister said.
When we were young, we developed an elaborate game of shared daydreaming, magical strategizing called, Play. Play was the existential hovering of our make-believe among swing sets and hand-made miniature kitchen sets and dollhouses throughout bike rides and entire days at the beach. Oh--the Barbies. It was important to me to establish exactly why we were imagining these things to pass the day and on what grounds.
My sister and I are intricately fierce beings possessing ironically, starkly opposing traits but similar to each other more than to others. I wear her clothes, use her artistries and toiletries, talk her head off. She admires my intensity, how I cover the bills and buy the Christmas presents then wrap them. I am her emotional thermometer. I give her pretty words.
In the yard, walking down the street, in bunk beds at night or assisting mom with grocery shopping, Play went like this:
"Older sister, when we play I’m going to be married to Tom Cruise and I'll be Whitney Houston and have a pink Corvette, a brick mansion and a beach house, one boy and one girl named x and y and we attend Catholic church because they use holy water and prayer stools and we will eat Swiss cheese not American, etc, etc, etc?"
Or Play went like this:
"Younger sister, if I don’t get to have the purple toothbrush or the Ken or you don’t be quiet right now then I won’t Play anymore."
The idea of not musing out-loud to my sister terrified me. It somehow seemed I would have to stop musing all together.
I bought the Neti pot and tried it and thought it was sort of great but odd that the salt water went down the throat—seemed a cleanse of colon as well. I was doing it wrong. I was not a Neti artist.
Coincidentally, I am not a Neti artist and when I meditate and stretch, I realize I do not breath through my right nostril and when I do, my systems seem to entirely shift. I can imagine what may be lodged in the nasal passages from my left to my right--most likely my real life.
If I could stop talking inside my head, I’m sure it’d come out to play.