The Clarity of Ink


I’m on an unruly horse on a journey; an earthly journey that only God knows where we are headed. Only God knows and my blog posts will be my attempt to be ok with that.

penI have not written a blog post since the summer of 2015. Apparently, the absence of cancer in the following years anesthetized deep thinking. That was fine by me. I like to write but what I really like to do is talk and anybody who has met me can attest within 5 minutes that I like to talk and I can do so in a variety of formats: teaching, storytelling (my favorite), presenting sermons, sale pitches, chitchatting , joking, and just generally yucking it up. I’m an extrovert, obviously, so talking is not just fun; it’s a blood transfusion that keeps me feeling alive, energetic and vibrant.

However, it is discipline I need when a curve ball of life is thrown at me (is that the right sports metaphor? I don’t play basketball.) I need boot camp training to keep me focused on my values, to my higher nature, and to the best of what makes me a thoughtful human. Talking is necessary as the means of vital human connection but talking is not a discipline; not for me anyway. Writing is the spiritual discipline that keeps me grounded. And it has good science to back its claims to stress reduction and trauma healing. Several theories attempt to explain this. I prefer the one that describes the process of writing as forcibly imposing boundaries on thinking – boundaries of grammar, syntax and sentence construction. Grammar, and not even necessarily correct grammar,writing forcibly imposes boundaries on thinking reins in free-floating anxious thoughts that tend to run off into numberless rabbit trails causing untold feelings of misery, fear and confusion.

I’ve been counseled by family and friends to pick up the computer again to begin a phase 2 of this cancer journey (Stage 4, metastasis). For several reasons, I have been reluctant to write. Laziness stands out as the most obvious. It takes time and mental work to write even if it turns out to be therapeutic. Replacing tissues with word documents feels a bit cold and a betrayal to the tragedy and intimacy of suffering. Going public with written reflections can also feel egocentric or worse, a kind of romantic display of “look at me, a suffering cancer victim with big poignant thoughts.” Another reason to avoid the blog world is the fear that I will write something now in the early stage of metastatic cancer that will seem sentimental or naïve considering the later stages of this disease. But despite self-doubt and laziness I’m doing it. I hope some of you who read my blog posts a few years ago will join me as I try to make sense of the ‘new normal’ of living with metastatic cancer. By the way, some of my blog posts will be reworkings of earlier ones as they seem upon re-reading them to have held on to their relevancy. (See ‘Fear of Dying from March 15, 2014.) Also, I will invite guests to submit an article from time to time.

So, here am I on this unruly horse going on our journey; an earthly journey that only God knows where we are headed. And when I say, “only God knows,” I mean it literally and respectfully. Only God knows and this blog will be my attempt to be ok with that.

4 thoughts on “The Clarity of Ink

  1. Michele Margulis January 7, 2019 / 3:46 pm

    Only those who have suffered deeply can resonate with your pain, fears and doubts. Here is an excerpt from Amy Carmichael, from her bedridden days. Really…only One knows…
    “I know”: the words contain
    Unfathomable comfort for our pain.
    How they can hold such depths I do not know—
    I only know that it is so.
    “Fear not”: the words have power
    To give the thing they name; for in an hour
    Of utter weariness, the soul, aware of One beside her bed,
    Is comforted.

    O Lord most dear,
    I thank Thee, and I worship—
    Thou art here.

  2. Elaine Canary January 7, 2019 / 9:27 pm

    I’m so happy you are back to writing Dona! Many Blessings.
    Elaine Canary

  3. Anonymous January 7, 2019 / 10:34 pm

    Donna, I don’t pray as often as many folks but I think more than most. I think about you a lot. Peter

  4. Peter January 7, 2019 / 10:48 pm

    Donna, I don’t pray as often as many folks but I think more than most. I think about you a lot. Peter

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