What Now?

Dear Friends,


Writing these reflections has heightened my awareness of how uncertain a task it is to honestly describe one’s emotions. It’s not that I wish to deceive; it’s just that I sometimes wonder if I am expressing what I want my feelings to be, rather than being able to admit to what they truly are.  I do my best; but the question lurks in the background, eventually to be better understood.

As of this morning, there have been scheduled for me, a battery of one-year follow-up tests. I’m writing these thoughts, intentionally, before undergoing the tests. I’m curious how I will feel about these reflections after the test results are returned.


August is an auspicious month for me. It is the month of my birth. In the past, I know I often regarded August with a kind of guilt. Here, came I, into the world, demanding attention and the resources from a more turbulent August. Men and women, that August, were giving up their lives by the score, (even on the very day of my birth) precisely to defend the freedoms, discoveries and self-determinations that were my exclusive self-centered preoccupations as a newborn. I recall one family story—retold laughingly, to be sure; but only many years after the apparent distress/delight of it. My Father had apparently—by some, not small, miracle—been able to acquire a small can of Vienna Sausages in our exile in wartime Scotland. He and my Mom determined to share with me, their infant toddler, a small portion of this precious windfall of scarce protein… only to watch me—all delightedly oblivious of their sacrifice—voraciously gulp down one after another of the compact little cylinders of nutrition, until the very last one was gone. Hearing that story as a teen, I found it difficult to believe I could have given my parents any delight or joy at the miracle of my birth. But they always and consistently communicated just that: that I (and my Sister, who came later—in a more halcyon time—into their lives) were the thrilling individuals who blessed their own lives with a particular joy. They wondered at us and nurtured us, as our personalities emerged and we unfolded as human beings under their good care. What a gift it is to be so loved (despite gulping down a whole tin full of Vienna Sausages!) How wondrous that their love continues and sustains me long after their ministry on this Earth is long over.

Life continues to be a gift. Yet, I also think of this August as the anniversary of my cancer (even though the discovery of my cancer actually was made a little earlier, in June 2011). I’ve just been scheduled for a follow-up colonoscopy and a series of “chest-through-pelvic” CT scans (with little input, I might add, from me… It was just “scheduled, period.” [So,” just show up, Chet!”]). I celebrate the period of a year—which, as Monica explains, “I mostly ‘missed.'” I dare say, with not a little justification, that it was mainly she, and my children, who suffered the greatest anxiety and loss during this past year. My neuropathy has changed many of my habits and behaviors, and continues to inhibit me and draws unwanted attention to itself.

I have been humbled (and nurtured, as well) by my friends. I’ve always recognized that I’ve been blessed to have friends; but never had realized, as much as now, that none of them are alike! Each has personal reactions. Every one responds, fears, grieves and consoles very individually and differently. Every one, in ways that would be intolerably embarrassing for me, were it not for the unguarded sincerity and candidness they each have displayed towards me. I have a shelf-full of amazingly diverse books given and recommended to me, several of which I’ve already enjoyed, and others I expect to enjoy. (The books, in their own right, deserve to be a subject of a future blog posting.) During this past year, too, I have lost a dear friend who was diagnosed at the same time as I, but with a more virulent cancer than mine. I only came to know him more closely through our common trek with our unbidden cancerous companion.

I am looking forward, as always, to the year to come.  For quite some time, I’ve been fond of pointing out that each year I celebrate, turns out to have been the “best year of my life”. It ever must be so if I perceive each and every breath as a gift and an opportunity, as, instinctively, I do (reinforced by the little story of that tin of Vienna Sausages and the context within which I consumed them). The predominant thoughts on my mind, as I approach this birthday, are “What Now?” “What will there be to discover and learn in the year to come?” “Have I changed because of the year gone by?” “What has changed?” “How?”

These call to mind a thought-experiment I was encouraged to ponder as a teenager on retreat: “If you knew that you only had but one more day in which to live, what would you do differently?”

Of course, it’s a trick question expressed the way it is, throwing emphasis on itemizing the things one would do differently. The answer, instead, is aimed at comporting one’s daily life so that it is indistinguishable from one’s last day… so that nothing need be done differently. No regrets for actions taken or not taken. No embarrassment for words spoken in thoughtlessness or anger. No missed opportunity to express, enthusiastically, the joy of life or the pleasurable obligations of companionship. And no cessation, either, of ongoing gratitude for God’s abundant grace.

To be sure, only Saints (and sometimes, I’ll warrant; not even, they) succeed in achieving these goals. Apropos of this, I should mention that Monica and I recently brought home a newly-adopted young dog. She’s a “rescue dog,” named “Gracie”. Without our intending it be so, Gracie has taken to assisting me in my endeavors. It is impossible not to observe that Gracie’s got the solution to the thought-experiment down, pat. It may be more challenging for us, mere humans to master the goals suggested by the though-experiment! Lucky, indeed, then, that I appear to have been given more time to work on mine.




Dear Friends,


The fact of issuing this second successive blog in so short a time is a decisive indicator of recovery from our bout with cancer. I’ve been thinking about ancient wisdoms as I am slowly emerging from the discomfiting “waiting period” that followed the cessation of my chemotherapy.


Immediately after terminating my infusions, Monica and I felt a nervous exhilaration that the worst had passed. Unexpectedly, I experienced a period during which an onslaught of side-effects took all of my attention. (It is unusual for many, to experience side-effects after chemotherapy… they usually accompany it. In my case, I experienced relatively fewer side effects during my infusions than my friends did; but the side-effects came along with fair intensity afterwards.) Following that, as my body metabolized and rid itself of leftover toxicity from the chemotherapies I’d undergone, I began to experience a constantly distracting and annoyingly disabling neuropathy. The neuropathy manifest itself in painful extremities: fingers that were numb but simultaneously tingled electrically; feet that gave me the impression of walking on cobbles even though the floor beneath my feet was flat and smooth. Ultimately, my doctor prescribed some medication that numbed the worst of my neuropathy.

Once I began taking the additional medication, my neuropathy began to feel as if the pain was muffled by a pair of good thick mittens. The neuropathy was still there, but felt as if it came from a distance. I haven’t recovered command of my fine motor coordination. I still drop things (although I’ve become more careful in anticipating conditions in which I might be expected to not have a firm grip on items. Often, I’ve noticed, the trick is simply a matter of slowing down a bit, and giving some thought to what I am about to pick up or move; something that, in adulthood, I’ve forgotten to do as often as I did when I was a child.)

Next began the uneasy period of “waiting” that has caught my attention.

• Waiting, first, for some bad news that my cancer had revived and had been discovered again in my body. I awaited such news knowing it would be impossible to learn that my cancer had been cured. There is no positively conclusive evidence of such an occurrence (however hard I might wish for it). Medical science has no tests that can confirm that a cure has been effected. Doctors only possess ones that can indicate failure: that a resurgence of tumor growth or reappearance of cancerous activity has shown up again. So, even if my caregivers observed nothing adverse taking place in my body, my mind wondered if, perhaps, the cancer was still there, lurking just beneath the sensitivity of medical equipment. If so, the bad news I awaited would inevitably arrive.

• Another type of waiting was to see “what would come next?” There have been enough surprises along the path after the initial shocking surprise of my diagnosis, that it seems rational (even for the optimist I am) to expect more unpleasantries. I know this to be true, because, even now, when I tell people that there has been no sign of my cancer’s resurgence, I find myself adding (sometimes sotto voce) “…at least, so far.” I actually dislike this in me. It is both an expression of distrust in what the professionals are telling me, and a kind of superstition: that if I say out loud that “I’m free of cancer!” then the cancer will “hear me” and return. Try as I might to rid myself of such a silly, nonsensical pattern, I still find myself muttering “…at least, so far.” I suppose, at its base, the expression is some kind of subliminal self-protection against potential future bad news… as if I’d known it were coming all along. Whatever its source I don’t much admire it, but accept it as an expression of lingering fear.

• A third kind of waiting I’ve been experiencing is for the arrival of a time when I would feel, again, as I had before all this began. Part of the process of participating in the course of my recovery has been attentiveness to my condition. I’ve written about this previously. But I can’t say I ever previously paid enough attention to “how I felt before”, to have a reliable baseline for comparison with how I feel, now. Even so, I felt a compulsion to try to compare “now” with “before”. “Now” seemed always to come up a little short than “before”. So I continued to await the impossible return of “before”. I don’t like this in me, either. I have always in my life felt that “now” is the best I’d ever experienced. The lesson this suggests is that—despite limitations, aches, and pains—now is the life that is mine to live… and it is still the best ever.

While the concept of waiting dominated my thoughts, I had begun to realize, “time, it was a-wasting”.

In a book he wrote about living with a mentally-disabled child, 1994 Nobel prize-winner and novelist, Kenzaburo Oe wrote about the importance of “accepting things as they are”. I take one meaning of Oe’s expression to mean “…not the way we might want them to be” nor—as is frequent among wisdom-writers—”…not the way things should be (or could be… if only we…)”.

Reading Oe’s phrase “accepting things as they are” helped me to recognize the counter-productivity of an attitude I hadn’t even noticed I’d begun to adopt: waiting (as distinct from living). Waiting, in some illusory way, suspends the present and leaves one temporarily suspended, too. But if life is to be lived, it must be lived the way we find it, not the way we wish it was; and certainly not in a condition of suspended animation, either.

Of course, someone is bound point out to me that “accepting things as they are” will surely lead to passivity. But that would be wrong. Life—as we observe it in all creation around us—is anything but passive. All life flourishes in its own context. Mine will only flourish if I resist waiting and, instead, keep engaging myself as energetically as I can with living. The instinct to wait surely is counter-productive, even toxic, with respect to my illness; as it is with respect to my mental and spiritual well-being.

I seem to recall that Buddha convincingly endorsed the value of living life fully in the present. I’m happy to be experiencing a vigorous return to Buddha’s sage advice.


Peripheral Neuropathy and pickup-trucks

Dear Friends,


The reason for the long hiatus since my last blog posting is that I have been experiencing difficulty accurately touch-typing. For me, this has been extraordinarily frustrating, and personally very discouraging. The experience led to my being more than a little depressed. After spending too much time (by my estimate) in the doldrums, I fired-up a computer application that has been lying dormant on my computer ever since I aquired it in the hopes that it could generate—from the audio track of a completed episode—a printed transcript of a GLOW[1] episode, a task for which it proved entirely unsuitable. The program is a voice-activated dictation application.[2] It works well when a speaker devotes a modicum of time “teaching” it the nuances of one’s particular diction and typical vocabulary. It quite dramatically fails to interpret voices with which it has had no previous exposure or training.

So I’ve devoted the last few days to learning about the program and tutoring myself to master the delicate art of dictation. The program is admirably written and comparatively easy to learn (as much as learning an unfamiliar computer program is ever “easy”). Dictation is a skill that was far more common in the generation previous to mine. It fell all but completely out of use in my “do-it-yourself” generation. It has only been recently revived when computer processing power allowed its complex implementation to be ported onto computer platforms. I’m employing this clever program to generate the text of this blog. It is going remarkably well and gives me great encouragement.

But I’m finding that articulating my thoughts, out loud, constitutes a distinctly different creative process than letting my thoughts tumble around in my mind, in silence, before I commit them to the keyboard. For me, even if no one is present to hear them, speaking my thoughts out loud, before I’m ready, just feels a little like a violation of some of my privacy. I’ve no doubt it would feel differently for an extrovert! Fluent dictation will take some time and adjustment. I am curious to learn what kinds of differences will result from having to verbalize my thoughts ahead of their being written. Creativity, in my observation, has always been inspired by facing constraints, so I’m curious to find what changes are in store for the future.

In the meanwhile, I’m pleased to assert that, in what follows, any spelling errors or typographic faux pas are completely the responsibility of my software. They will not be my responsibility (this time)![3]    🙂


Imagine a pick-up truck moving along steadily at 30-odd miles per hour. The pickup truck is a metaphor for the regularly-scheduled chemo infusions I’ve, until recently, been receiving. Now imagine that a pile of bricks had been loaded onto the bed of the truck, conveniently positioned by the rear gate. The bricks represent the multitude of effects the chemotherapeutic infusions have had on my body: both beneficial and damaging.

When I terminated my bi-monthly infusion treatments—seven weeks ago, now—I had, metaphorically speaking, slammed on the brakes of my pick-up truck, bringing it to an abrupt stop. I expected that I would immediately feel better. I wanted the ill effects of my treatment to cease as abruptly as the pickup had.

What I’d neglected to consider is that a load of bricks has its own mass and momentum, entirely independent of the pickup truck. This meant that—though the truck had stopped—the bricks would continue their forward motion, sliding along on the bed of the truck until their energy was dissipated by friction (or until they collided with the cab). Simple physics. Why hadn’t I thought of that?


The particular “brick” that has most bothered me in the aftermath of terminating my chemo infusions is peripheral neuropathy. It is a condition that adversely affects the extremities (fingers and toes, prime, among others). There are other medical conditions that are associated with it, but peripheral neuropathy is a well-recognized effect of cancer treatments. In my case, my neuropathy only really became evident after my infusions were terminated (after the pickup truck had braked to a halt). What’s worse is that the effects, far from being diffused by time, have become increasingly debilitating as the days have passed. My oncologist suggests patience. She assures me that the symptoms will disappear, but prepares me for the fact that it may take months… or even years.

Neuropathy causes the extremities to tingle, be painful and be particularly sensitive to cold. It appears that (like my damaged taste buds) the affected nerve endings at the extremeties of my body send confusing signals to my brain. In my case, my fingers are not sensitive enough to discriminate when they are on the “home keys” of my computer keyboard. My fingers dutifully aim at the correct keys, but seem unable to recognize the physical properties of my fingers to discern (or adjust to) when they’ve lighted on the proper keys. Something similar is true of my feet. I must be especially careful going downstairs because my feet give me the impression of landing on the tread several inches earlier than my physical feet actually touch the step. The other day, while walking across the patio, I distinctly felt as if I were going downhill and executed a little running step to slow down my momentum. Of course, since there was no reason to slow down, my running step looked like part of a little unnecessary dance routine. But, at least, it was not dangerous; whereas losing my balance or trusting in an erroneous depth perception is an altogether possible danger. So I’ve become attentive.

These, and related sensations, can provoke frustration and even anger. I am not prone to anger. I am well aware that my cancer justifies feelings of anger, and that for many patients, being afflicted with cancer likely arouses legitimate feelings of anger. I am not one of these, as far as I can tell. Anger belongs to a fundamental complement of emotions experienced by human beings. But I have never experienced the beneficial effects of personal anger. At most, my anger gives me a temporary relief from some stress. But it replaces my relief with a considerable bit of stress of its own. While I can admit that many individuals may benefit from expressing anger in ways I have not yet learned, anger has never proven (for me) to provide a solution to what may have caused it in the first place. Instead, faced with the kind of frustration and discouragement that peripheral neuropathy causes me, I tend to seek out alternatives that can overcome the limitations of my experience… such as a dictation system that can eliminate or replace my reliance on keyboards.

I’m curious about why it is that I don’t rely on anger as much as others of my friends do. I wonder what it was that dampened the value of this emotion in my personality. I have an early memory about learning to deal with pain or frustration. It suggested an alternative to anger. The alernative was taught me by my parents and was reinforced by the Dominican Sisters who were my elementary school teachers. When, as a child, I became obsessed by things beyond my control; or when I suffered a physical pain that was not life-threatening (but seemed worth exaggerating for the pity it might evoke), I was routinely advised  to “offer it up.” What was meant by this suggestion was that my pain—taken in a broader context—could be transformed, by dint of my own attitude, from something negative into something beneficial. By “offering up” my ‘negative’ suffering I, myself, could convert it to some equivalent “positive energy” for someone else in need of it.

As a child, I interpreted this action as having an immediate effect. If I generously offered up my pain (and ceased complaining about it), someone else in the world for whom I dedicated my pain, might feel a lightening or compensating relief of their own pain; or a soul “in Purgatory” might ascend from that temporary confinement to a more complete participation in the joys of Paradise. It was the equivalent of the physical Law of the Conservation of Energy; only this had to do with the “Conservation of Painlessness”.

As an adult, these explanations involve an acquiescence to an entire theological construct. Such a construct may or may not be as compelling as it may have been in childhood. Or, for those not raised as I was, such a transformation of pain into benefit might not even seem to have any validity at all. But, as I think about it today, it would be foolhardy to dismiss the lessons given by wise mentors to children. Doing so risks dismissing, as childish nonsense, the underlying message my teachers were intending to convey. To consider the suffering of the world, when one confronts one’s own suffering, is an admonition that has enormous (and somewhat forgotten) value. One has only to read the Book of Job to realize there are more complex issues at stake than one’s personal suffering.

One of the least appealing aspects of my illness is its necessary focus on self-awareness. I am admonished to monitor my blood pressure several times a day. I am asked to take a glucose reading in the mornings and evenings. I have an assortment of pills to take at different times during the day. I must guard my nutritional intake. I must partake of sufficient exercise. I become, perforce, increasingly sensitive to routine things I formerly took for granted (such as touch-typing or merely walking).

It is well and good that I pay attention to such details. But one of the enemies of a balanced personality (and a serious impediment to a reciprocal community life) is self-absorption. Self-absorbtion is perilously proximate to self-awareness, especially the kind of self-awareness that arises from and is prompted by discomfort and pain.

So, as I struggle with a user interface resulting from thousands of lines of inanimate software code and an unnatural-feeling but remarkably-effective method of textual input; employed for the purpose of overcoming the (in the larger context, trivial) inconvenience of a neuropathic by-product of the treatment of my life-threatening illness, I am altogether grateful for my childhood upbringing that taught me to step outside my self-attentive discomforts to dedicate them for the lifting of pain, in general, from a pained world.

As a child, I had no doubt about the efficacy of my attitudinal reorientation; no doubt that my pain could be redirected to remediate pain elsewhere. As an adult, I can but hope and trust that something of the sort still really will happen. At the very least, its good for me to believe that it will.





[1]  http://www.greatlibraries.org

[2]  http://www.nuance.com/for-individuals/by-product/dragon-for-mac/dragon-dictate/index.htm

[3]  I couldn’t help myself… after the program was through transcribing my dictation, I hurriedly scanned and corrected the (remarkably few) typographic oddities that had been incorporated in the text. Homophones and homonyms seem to be sources of difficulty. I’ll do a bit more “training exercises” before attempting my next blog posting.

Thoughts on neuropathy and touch – Infusion 9/12

Dear Friends,


Once again, I apologize for not being consistent in producing these occasional essays. I’ve just completed my 8th cycle of chemotherapy. As I write this, I’m in the Clinic undergoing my 9th cycle. This means there are only 3 cycles left!

Maybe I’d forgotten that my caregivers had been instructing me that during this process the chemo would gradually accumulate in my body, the poisons (er, medications) gaining in strength as that happened. As this took place, they warned me, my side effects would intensify. That is precisely what happened after cycle 8, two weeks ago. After this 8th infusion, all my previous symptoms heightened (neuropathy, nausea, drippy nose[1], fatigue [better described, in my case, as apathy or ennui], etc.) Despite my best “intellectual” intentions, my body and mind rejected anything I determined to accomplished that smacked of mental (to say nothing of physical exertion).  My mind’s compelling response was a puerile (I somewhat regrettably observe from this that childishness may never be completely erased, in even an adult male.) “Nah. Not now. Who cares? Watch some mind-numbing TV. Take a nap.  You can do all you want, tomorrow.” And so the week sped by without my posting a single blog update.

I’ve been jotting notes on selected Christmas cards Monica has addressed for us, confiding that–uncomfortable and annoying as the side effects may be–I recognize them to be predicted, within tolerable ranges, and by-products, merely, of what is healing me. Hence, I can easily put up with such incidental by-products while I slowly glean meaning and lessons from this process of illness, vulnerability, care-giving, care-receiving, healing… from the entire rich and related process.

I am similarly consoled to be able to turn over the monitoring of the intensity and the assessment of potential dangers of my side effects to my nurses and doctors, who have far more experience than I, in comparative patient reactions. So I find myself completely at ease with where I am, with respect to my annoying but not unmanageable discomforts and the timeline of treatment.

That said, I’m saddened (but gratefully aware of the reasons) to find that especially the women in my family (particularly Monica; Krysia; in her way, Anastasia; and my sister, Wandzia), find distressing, my apparent weakness and discomfort. They would rather not have me go through this unavoidable phase. It’s easier, by far, for me to come to terms with what I am experiencing, than it is for them to accept what they observe. I’d react in exactly the same way if our roles were reversed. Different experiences of the same illness. Evidence of the often under-recognized wider impact of illness: wider effects than can be observed in one patient, alone.


I’ve been thinking about nerves (i.e. neuropathy).

Pensée, the First

Think about one single nerve, whose one end terminates in the tip of your index finger. Perhaps this nerve is dedicated to recognizing temperature. It possesses some sort of knowledge about an acceptable temperature range for human beings. Or, more likely, any particular nerve is far “dumber.” It simply passes on observed information having to do with temperature. Elsewhere, that information might be interpreted to be within or outside an acceptable range. This particular nerve is essential to the time-honored tale of the toddler learning not to touch the burning oven or fireplace. Perhaps there is nowhere (even in our mind) that some pre-determined “temperate range” exists, prior to the experience of pain that can be registered by this nerve. This nerve, while specialized to deal with temperature, might merely (and in common with other nerves) register comfort or discomfort. Over the course of time, some operation of the mind might accumulate the massive amount of data continuously transmitted by this single nerve about the status of its specialization. Then the mind might begin to filter away those communications that are benign and ignorable. In this way, the mind might eliminate large amounts of incoming information that doesn’t need to be processed because experience shows that it can be ignored. At the same time the procedure heightens responsiveness to messages from the nerve that fall outside the ignorable range. “Ouch. This stovetop hurts me!”

My goal, here, is not to try to define “message”, “mind”, “information”, “knowledge”, or any of the other words I’ve conveniently (but not in any precise way) used, above. My goal is even less to attempt to describe the mechanism by which nerves “communicate”, “learn”, “process” or (importantly) “forget” what they register. It is enough, in this crude simplistic explanation, that I recognize, dimly, how many details exist, and how careful must be the intellectual and scientific work to describe and understand this process, even down to its chemical, molecular and electrical/energetic functional mechanisms. But all these are undeniably exciting, in themselves, as fields of attention.

Instead, my goal is to isolate this particular,—minute—nerve, on my index finger, to recognize two following facts that can be deduced (and verified by scientific investigation and experimentation).

(1) There must by multiple and countless “siblings” or “independent clones” of this single nerve. I know this because—even confined to my index finger—discovering that the stovetop is too hot for me to touch can be learned at various spots along my finger, and even at different points on the tip of my finger. One fixed nerve-ending couldn’t suffice. I’d have to be endowed with duplicate nerve endings at the top and sides of my fingertip, and more—closely-spaced—along the length and circumference and plane of my finger’s skin surface. Mind-boggling.

(2) If the nerve I’ve been describing is specialized for temperature, there must exist similar nerves, of a similar kind, specialized for other sensations (roughness/smoothness, pressure [very light to very strong…probably differentiated], movement/stasis, weight, thickness [in conjunction with other nerves], texture, density [solid or liquid], viscosity, stickiness…). The list is seemingly endless.

Its, perhaps, easy to see where I’m heading. I want to be aware of the incredible density of sensory apparatus nature has concentrated on my index finger. Aware of it, I can extrapolate that density to my remaining fingers; then to my hands; and thence to the rest of my body. I have an impression (and don’t wish to digress by trying to verify it) that the nerves I’m thinking about are not evenly distributed throughout my skin. My ankles—though evidently sensitive (in addition to appearing attractively svelte, these days)—seem to me not to have a comparable concentration of the same nerves as I’ve become aware of in my fingers.

Pensée, the Second

How interesting that…

  • I experience a distinct feeling of calming when my nurse puts her hand on my chest in order to stabilize it while she inserts a needle into my port.
  • in the West, we customary shake hands in greeting, instinctively affirming the potential, or reaffirming an existing relationship.
  • experimental studies have confirmed that the absense of touch in young mammals and human children cause substantial degradation of later confidence, happiness, and feelings of security.
  • liturgical ceremonies from the consecration of priests and bishops, to ritual confirmations of kings and emperors have historically, down to the present, included what is called “the laying on of hands.”
  • during the imposition of the Sacrament of the Sick (which I’ve been priviledged to receive), there is a similar laying on of hands. It conveys a distinct calm and brings peace.
  • holding hands is sought after by young lovers. When I hold hands with Monica it is a wonderfully brightening, loving, and consoling (not to mention exciting) experience.
  • we instinctively stroke the faces and bodies of those who are in pain.
  • we humans tend to want to cuddle… bringing the sensory apparatus of one being in close proximity with that of another.
  • we can share this intimacy, or this yearning to communicate, with other sentient human beings; not only human, but other species who co-exist with us on this earth.

I believe there is a good deal to wonder at, in the awareness of the density of sensory apparatus that is part of our corporeal selves. Clearly, many of the apparati exist to make us aware of danger and protect us against a potentially hostile external world. But many more seem to exist to pass messages among us that are even more communicative (think broadband, for you techies) than our uttered language.

With these thoughts, then, it seems appropriate to wish that during the forthcomingh holiday season, you be touched by and touch with great awareness, the people who surround you, nurture you, and live their lives with you. May you, too, be warmed by the Spirit who fills these festive days with meaning.




[1] Verification needed… I can’t tell if its a “medical urban myth” or has any basis in reality. I’ve not (yet) lost my hair, but my eyes (and especially my nose) seems to drip constantly and voluminously. I asked someone what causes this to happen, especially by my annoyingly constantly-dripping nose. They answered that—despite the fact I’d not lost the hair on my head or chin—I’d lost the hairs in my nose. Among their jobs was to keep my nose from running.  I find this—for some quirky reason—immensely amusing. But I’m also skeptical. Any feedback would be welcome at grycz@well.com . Merry Christmas!