November 20, 2009

Ark 3: Arc

Finding new territory.



Just to recap:

First there were floods. Overwhelmingly devastating events only starting with diagnosis. Not just one event but an ongoing series of emotional deluge. In these some things we held important didn't get on the boat. Some part of us did get on the Ark with all kinds of emotions good and bad.

Next we went floating. No rudder, no compass, no GPS, no land to be landmarks... It took some courage to float. We worked through each day step by step. It was lonely. Maybe we learned true compassion and maybe even extended that to ourselves by not letting guilt take control.

Noah’s flood ended. So will ours. He sent out a dove. Three times. The First time it came back but with no sign of life. The second time it brought back an olive leave and the third time was the charm. The bird didn't return.

After the flood that started with diagnosis we go floating, isolated. Eventually we want reach out to see if there is something other than water beyond the horizon. We send a dove. At first it comes back with nothing - the floating isn’t over. I think it is significant that we are ready for it to be over and reach out our hand with a dove. We are ready for something, anything, new relationships even if we don’t at first find them.

The second time the bird brings back a little leaf. There is something out there we can’t see. That is exciting.

The third time the dove stays on new land.

If the bird had not come back the first two times my Noah part would have thought there is nothing out there, even though I wanted something to be there. My Noah would think the bird died, exhausted and fell into the sea, probably eaten by sharks too. But it came back. It proved it could. I think that my Noah needed the bird to come back and me to keep reaching out. By coming back to Noah outstretched hand the bird helped pull him to new territory.

Having proving both it can come back and there is land out there someplace, growing leafs, I gotta think Noah is starts hoping it doesn’t come back. I gotta think Noah get the idea that, ‘If the bird finds a better place than this stinking boat so can I.’ The outstretched hand becomes letting it go with the expectation of no return.

OK that all well and good - here how I see that in in my flood.

A leaf moment for me was meeting a guy name Willie at a JDRF event a few years ago. He was in the corner of an empty room. He became an island. His daughter had been recently diagnosed and they were just back from Friends for Life. We hit it off. His enthusiasm for Friends for Life convinced us to go. What a gift that was, a leaf from new territory full of incredible new heros.

Why did we get along so well? Maybe my drifting taught me some compassion and I could honor their struggle without offering them a trite formula. Maybe the other way round. Who knows? Probably both. I found new territory from a new friend.

Looking back there was a virtual Alfred Hitchcock scene of birds dropping leafs on me. I just didn’t see them for what they were. I guess I was too busy floating and wasn’t ready. I mentioned Kerri and Scott’ pieces on guilt at the end of Floating, here’s just a few other though there were many many more:
  • I anxiously looked forward to new episodes Christel Marchand’s diabetic feed podcast. I got to meet her this past summer and she is far more dynamic than I could have guessed and I had ridiculously high expectations.
  • I read and wrote on ADA and CWD’s forums where I joked regularly with Nick. I wrote Bad Thing Happen to Good People for him.
  • I became friends with Mark who explained who the parents are the primary care give for type 1 kids. Doh!
  • I met folks who could invent Tim. I know inventing Tim makes no sense. In that is the brilliance of how welcoming the natives of the new territory are, from facing a similar deluge they can simultaneously create and mock a boogieman to laugh at and honor floods.
  • Joe explained explained unrealistic expectations as when to smoke another bowl.
  • Ellen got accused of peeing on someone's online Cheerios and that was a chance for me to send a message.

I admit it. I was so used to floating I mistook the all the leafs falling from the wind that pushed me to new land as just another day tossed about on the seas. There was a whole diabetes online community out there dropping leafs like rain drops in the deluge.

Through all of these folks I realized what it means to see with the eye of love that I had to take on faith back in the first of these essays, “..faith is the ability to see with the eye of love. I’ll take that on faith and I’ll loop back later.” Here I am.

From these folks I have learned that looking at somebody who is struggling and honoring their suffering without giving them some trite formula is often little more than the courage to share my own experience without any expectation of return. I love these people for showing me how to do that. To a woman and man none claims to be a perfect diabetic or parent. They simply shared their daily triumphs and challenges. They honor each other’s struggles and in doing so are simply human to one another.

Thanks for taking me in. What a place to find. What a promise to join.

The Noah story closes with a rainbow. A covenant. Chuck said you can can only see a rainbow when with the sun at at your back and the storm passed. The Ark series talking about the end of the rainbow. That the pot of gold is when the storm clears there is the chance to know the intimacy that god intends for all of us.

The ark becomes an Arc, a connection, a promise.

Coming out of my storms I have found a lot of people I would have never know, who’s struggles I honor and am honored to have shared with me.

That is that is my Arc story. I am a little amazed at what came out writing it. If anyone finds value here, great! It's yours with no expectations.



There is a pot at the end of the rainbow.
I couldn't resist.



I say it down there in the fine print but it worth saying up here. The music that went with the series was outstanding. There are a number of renditions of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Marguerite singing with Brian on acoustic guitar is unbelievable.


The 3rd part of the Ark series that inspired this is partially available on line at http://vimeo.com/7401547 Partially in that all talking is there sadly the music of the services isn’t. Each service featured amazing music, rock for the most part but the music is most notable for a hauntingly beautifully version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow that brings tears to my eyes thinking about it. The full series is with tunes available on a DVD. They don't have an online store but you can email and he can set get you a disk.


3 comments:

Penny said...

Oh thank you SO very much for all of these writings Bennet. You have no idea how they have touched me, being a parent of a newly diagnosed child with Type 1. Sometimes I think I am still in the storm, and other times, I can see the clearing and I can see me sending out the dove again. I have found some land, some land to set my foot upon, through this diabetic online community. Other parents on the ADA listserv who reach out, Kerri who literally reminds me of my daughter as she recollects when she was 6 and diagnosed, from Manny on TuDiabetes and his wonderful work and words. There are so many of you out there, you have no idea what strength you have given me to do this each day.

I also reflected on the sweet grace that the flood has brought into my life. Isn't it funny that my youngest who is Type 1 is also named Grace? I love that. It has brought me strength in many ways that I did not know I had, it has brought me peace with the days I have on the earth and joy that we are able to make it day by day through this land of diabetes. Is it ok to thank diabetes for bringing this to my life? I don't want to hate the diabetes, hating it somehow means I hate a part of her. I can't do it. I need to embrace it and see that it has gifts. Thank you for showing me through your 3 part posts that perhaps it has brought something into my life that maybe wasn't there before.

Thank you.

Bennet said...

Penny

You are so very welcome.

I think that sometimes I am in the storm, (see the Serve threads there is a tempest for ya- LOL) other times floating and occasionally on the beach.

You clearly gave the best of Grace. Pun very much intended.

As for the hating diabetes, I think we will need to agree to disagree for while I see the great value in the places Grace has taken me I still hate diabetes. Yes the kids have it but we'll give it away as soon as there is a cure. That said your point is very well taken and probably a lot more spiritually advanced than mine.

I hope you can make it to FFL some year and say hi face to face.

Penny said...

Hi Bennet,

Thanks for the response. It has given me lots to think about. You see, I have 3 kids, Gracie is my youngest at age 7. My oldest is 13 and has autism. I thought the flood hit the first time, about 11 years ago when she was diagnosed. The last 11 years have been a ride, a tumultuous, Aerosmith-RockNRoller coaster ride of autism. It continues to this day.

You know that quote about Mother Teresa saying that God only gives you what you can handle. He must have thought something else of me, I'll tell you that. I was blindsided by the Type 1 diagnosis. Really I thought, REALLY? is someone playing the ultimate joke on me? I don't have enough on my plate? Thank God (literally) I have a sense of humor, otherwise I'd be in the corner with a bottle of gin and a deck of cards in the other. So, sense of humor intact, here we go traveling the Type 1 road now, while autism tags along.

I am wondering about diabetes like I wonder about autism and my daughter. Hard to find similarities at times between the two, then you live with both and realize there are. If I took away autism from my oldest, would she be who she is? Funny, charming, light of my life, soulful? Can I love the autism and still wish for cure? Much the same - what if I took away the diabetes from Grace - would it take away the gifts that it has brought and that were supposed to come? Can I love the diabetes and STILL wish every day for a cure? Hard stuff. I see your thinking in hating it, it's just not my place right now and where I am. As you always say - your diabetes may vary. True words my friend.

I was struck by your words in the 'Bad Things Happen to Good People' posting - "There is a way to be better for all of it, we have to find the up side of the equation that is keeping us in freedom to come out OK." There is a way for me to be a better parent to Grace because of what I have learned from my oldest. What brings me to Grace as her parent has been shaped by my oldest's influence in my life. That's what brings me to grace (lowercase intended).

I hope to meet you some day at FFL. I hope to take Grace and show her the blessings of people with Type 1. So that she feels comfort in knowing she is not alone. That others are here to help her row the boat and get her through, when the flood comes in her own life.

Thank you Bennet, for writing and being who you are in the diabetic online community. You are appreciated.