The Bloom of Scar Tissue

The Bloom of Scar Tissue

Ponderings

I wrote this blog Sunday 22nd October.

Do you reach inside and find the beauty or accept that skin and shape and lumps and bumps are but an illusion you must not fixate on?

That bump filled with brain fluid was not there before. The under layers of skin were not torn and stretched from the swelling of a saw and staples.

It is 2012 and the only story you know that tells of such things is Frankenstein. A monster. A craniotomy will do that.  Little children cannot come in to visit. It is too distressing. Grown men you have known for years are reduced to tears when they see you, and they struggle to hide it. That thing- that expression. It is a pity and sadness. Yet everyone says you look great, you look fine.

They tell beautiful lies to help keep you grateful for the life you have. The life you hold that keeps your heart beating is what is so important. Their hearts shine true in that moment.

In those months after a craniotomy, I was not a monster, just a little broken. But no longer a girl, no longer a woman. No longer a dancer of ballet, of quick human movement and a painter or a poet. No longer the protector of my children at night while they slept. I prayed each night they were okay. That I could trust those loving them on the daily to make sure they looked at them in the eyes and told them they were loved and safe. Like I did.

I think of myself sometimes when it was tough in the third person.

I think it has been a way to compartmentalise. I was a grateful survivor, and yet a soldier of war with battle scars she did not ask for. She did not volunteer for. Yet she did not fight anyone off, she walked right in and took the needle and signed the forms. She wanted to run, she wanted to scream and hide and say no. But she could not. The inner confusion and turmoil, to damage oneself to live. What a notion.

To say goodbye and kiss the heads of your children, to get in a car and drive to a big bustling place. To get your head shaved and your body naked under a cotton gown not knowing if you will kiss their heads again.

Consequence is a word you hold in your hand like a strange seed you found. Which garden shall you plant that in? The one that faces the north and screams of Victim or the one that says Growth?

Then there is the now.

When I lose myself in the energy of the room, I forget about what I look like, what anyone looks like. It’s because I can feel everything, the love, the humor, the frequency of those around. Things like traditional beauty or prettiness or ugliness or any such appearance do not concern me. Until someone takes a photo. Because then it’s like an ugly little version of my surface just got captured in a bottle and can’t get out. Unless you smash it with a delete button. And then there is the fear with social media, that someone else will share the little version of you and others won’t see your energy, they will see the damage the war did. Why does it matter what they think and see?

Blindness was freedom from all of this. It was a relief. I did not need to see myself; therefore I did not have to validate my appearance. It didn’t matter. Out of sight, out of mind.

No makeup, no hair, no eyes to see the damage. Those super hearing marvel style skills were too much fun and the challenge of learning my environment in a new way all wrapped up in the happiness of still being on the planet surpassed any vanity.

Until my vision returned.

So much joy. Because I got to see my children’s smiles again, the pictures they had drawn for me. The sky windows- puddles in the ocean. So glorious and full. My husband, my family. Their physical, visual picture was mine again to capture with my body’s camera- the eyes. I was not prepared for the trauma of seeing myself again and finally understanding why my little boy cried so much. He wanted Mummy to look like Mummy again, and why the grown men cried. Why the mailman did not recognize me at the door and asked me who I was. I told him it was me and he said it was so sad. I asked him why and he said I was so pretty before… but don’t worry you will be again. And the nurse saw my picture on the wall and asked who it was.
”That’s me.”  It is one of my favourites. It doesn’t look like me anymore.

Society tells you it does not matter it does matter it doesn’t.

Like this barge going back and forth between the shores of depth and shallow. Which one is it? Why do we get so distressed with scars and physical damage? We hero worship the survivor and yet as a species we spend millions on maintaining and enhancing the symmetry of the human appearance. A world that celebrates the beautifully broken on one hand and shining perfectional beauty on the other. Where do they connect? For surely beauty is unique, not a blended image of sameness.

Where is the distinction or balance in this? It used to baffle me, now it intrigues me and mortifies me all in one. I now believe when people speak their perception of what beauty is to them, it reveals the contents of their heart.

Then I got the all clear. Then the all clear was taken away. An inoperable option. Not an option. The lack of an option. We can’t do anymore. How much longer do I have? Not sure. Ok.

So we walk that walk. As a family and yet the unshakeable truth sits within me- LIFE IS FOR LIVING. Not for fear. It is the walk of the possibly dying. Because we all are. So it counts. Every day counts- it’s not a cliche. It is the essence of every single molecule and particle, shape, symmetry and pattern that exists for life to prosper. There’s a whole lot of work going on in the living here and in whatever comes after this version of life, there are many more of this I am sure also. But death is real too, and it might just be that death is but a doorway to another life.

So now I live in this one, I rejoice. I choose to live a life that is full with no excuses, to feel my way intuitively, guided by my understanding and perceptions, hoping to keep them as precise and sharp as possible to be valid and true. I listen to the guidance I receive, and I do my best.

I love within an inch of my being, and I hold those I love dearer than my own heartbeat. The patterns of nature and the design of our world intrigues me, as does geometry and physics, the gleaning of the matrix that supports the whole system has captured my fancy in a way unimaginable. The gifts of the spirit are abundant and my cup runneth over.

Yet still, this undeniably human desire to be physical as I was before the surgery haunts me every time a picture is taken, every time I look in a reflective surface, each time my body won’t work the way I want it to. So I will be grateful, and I will work on trying to mend that broken part within. I will be grateful for the scars and the bumps and distortions, I will be thankful for the migraines, the weird inexplainable seizures, the sleep apnea, and the blood pressure, the brain fog, the short-term memory and the fear of the sound of chainsaws, the narcolepsy stuff and the heartache and even the scar dandruff,  because all of this means I am alive. I breathe. I eat. I love and I live. I am surrounded by good friends and family. I live in a country that is not war inflicted and where I can live this life this way. Because we all have our path to walk.

And I could not have captured this view of real life unless this had all happened. I choose growth and the power of the inner spirit guided by my God to overcome all and sit in Grace.

Why? Because you see restoration of the spirit and growth cannot happen without trauma.

Regardless of what any doctor might say I am going to live.

Because my chapters are not written by humans.

October 23rd this happened:

Neuro clinic appointment.

My brain has healed.

Option 2 Happened. (Bye bye Tiffany)

Car Park: screaming and crying hysterical woman spotted ranting loudly in Major Melbourne Hospital. Blue eyed man pacing in shock with what witnesses say was a a look of dumbfounded oblivion.

Incoherent phone calls to family.

Sister may have fainted.

Shock (hot water bottles, blankets and sister needed for this one)

Joy

Overwhelm

Panic

Joy

Humbled like a small pebble in the bottom of a deeeep ocean. Feeling so small.

More Joy (don’t freak out the kids)

Disbelief

Thanks

“Mum- we have run out of milk again”

Prayer

Vomit

Love

Joy

No more fear- running under the moon

Crying (lots and lots of crying)

Dehydration from crying.

“Are you sure you got it right dear? You didn’t get confused?”

More Joy

Anger

Running

Parked outside Flight Centre and considered flying and climbing something really big and shaving my head at the same time and screaming ODONNELL RULES. (That was a weird moment) rang one besty who told me to do it and the sensible one said go home and sleep.

Spontaneous outbursts of laughing

Rage

Sat up in bed next to my sister while we planned our nursing home antics. (We will be room sharing)

Persistent need to kiss my children and it’s now giving them them shits.

Joy

Uncontrollable smiling – it’s a little creepy

Now resting

Life is good. I need a new word. There are no words. I think I am going to faint and cry and I don’t know what.

Bucket list is ticked…now WHAT?

Treaties, Climate Change and the Fight Club of the 2019 Vote

Makarrata, a treaty and 650,000 years of carbon dioxide lead to this moment, a minister walked...
Young Wordsmith

Young Wordsmith

This incredible young freestyle poet happened upon our radar a few weeks ago, and the moment I read these poignant lines I put in my request. Australia I would like to introduce you to the words of our Young Wordsmith of the Month Lilli O’Driscoll.

Only 14 years of age, the young Sydneysider is profoundly authentic and we are really excited to see where her writing journey takes her.

Travel

The grip of human sensibilities hold me back,

Etiquette, manners, silence.

They claw at my hair and beg me to cave,

As the exhilarating sights of a new experience are beheld,

In my wide eyes.

I take a step.

No,

A leap.

And dive into

The Unknown.

It’s cold and careless,

But warm and envigorating.

The voices still buzz,

Little gnats that gnaw,

At the path in my vision.

I see the icy disapproval of those who live above,

The open arms of the ones who live below.

And the tourists,

They frolic in puddles,

Afraid to dive,

Afraid to swim,

To drown.

Polite and unnerving,

Silent in their ignorance,

Taking pictures of things that shimmer with the indents of passive eyes,

Of the ones who empty- mindedly,

Past.

Untitled design-14

Ponder Kindness

Ponder Kindness

For those of you that have followed Ponderings over the last few years, you will know that my preoccupation with faith and the existential self-has been a big part of my life. It has been this dance that has grown into a study of religion and anthropology. I have often shied away from discussing it in more detail in this space because beliefs are so very personal and I don’t want ever to alienate my beautiful tribe of Ponderers. But a certain person came up on my radar that beckoned a bit more, capturing and challenging the hearts of Australia. But I will get to him shortly. Shall we bravely ponder?

In these years of seeking and learning, something has struck me, again and again, and that is how many of the world religions have the same stories, themes and metaphors (just different characters) and many of those involved in spiritual awakenings and happenings outside of themselves, across the globe, across thousands of years are similar. Stories of angels, of burning bushes, Damascus like happenings, wearied souls seeking solace in abandoned places away from people to have spiritual epiphanies, there are countless stories etched into our history.

Planet Spectrum

A few things get me perplexed in thought. Want to hear them? It has always intrigued me how science emerged from the belly of religious study, from humans looking outward and asking “where did we come from?” yet over the centuries science and religion have parted ways- at times fervently in angry opposition. Evolutionists can believe in God, but no one talks about it. Mohammed and Moses apparently both had assistance from Angels called Michel, and Jibrael (Gabriel and Michael -different spellings, but the same dudes with wings) but no-one talks about that connection.

Eastern, Western, Northern and Southern belief structures all over the planet going back thousands of years value much of the same fundamental questions and stories. When I was studying religions from around the world at University, I was gobsmacked. Why? Because in the genesis of these religions: the core sentiments are the same. Houston we have a problem. We argue over the right and wrong of it all. Yet it is marinated in the same concepts. Literally.

It needs to be said that people can also lose faith in those religions when those in higher positions of so-called authority let them down.

Abuse of power within any human organization exists and is destructive. Religion is no different. Some people are drawn to leadership so they can be more powerful than others, this is certainly true. However, the truth is: if you were to study every one of these religions they have episodes of power abuse in every single one of them over the last 3000 years. Why? Because humans are involved. Give me a group of humans and I will show you shades of morality in every degree that all form this human tapestry. The respect for everyone’s belief system falls out of favor at times; others are more PC, and acceptable, wouldn’t you agree? Some are popular, and some are not.

EVERYTHING

But what about the others? What about the leaders that have a calling to help humanity that is nothing short of inspiring?

The leaders that are not afraid to remind us of our ethics and morals as human beings on this planet? The moral compass bearers that are separate from state and carry the mantle, asking the ‘bigger’ questions about the condition of Humanity? Many of these women and men have spent decades studying the human condition, theology, the aesthetics of human goodness and not- so- goodness. They are often experts in the species we call human’s spiritual evolvement, going back thousands of years. They have that calling.

I first saw Father Rod Bower from the Gosford Anglican Church on Facebook, doing a live church sermon, and I was nothing short of captivated. This enigmatic man was calling for humility, calling for the fundamental rights of human beings to be respected. In Australia, we are quite fervent in our differing beliefs about “boat people” and refugees. The key piece of information people need to remember is according to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, our measuring stick on Planet Earth, every human has basic needs, if you don’t meet them, you are in significant strife with the UN and in danger of moral corruption in the worst possible way. Something that Fr. Rod Bower is reminding us about recently, just this week he chained himself to our Prime Minister’s Front Gates in protest against current government actions with The Manus Men.

His flair for troublemaking is exemplary- the Gosford church sign out front takes the traditional messages of faith and turns them on their head. The original one that tickled the Nation’s fancy: Dear Christians, People Are Gay, Get Over It, Love God.

On another particular live stream Fr. Rodd spoke about getting the basics right. If we get the basics right like hospitality and kindness, the rest of human decency will flow and be activated. Like a true scientist, he was unpacking the ideology and examining the pieces. This was not fodder being jammed down one’s mortal throat for salvation, but something more.

It was when an atheist friend and I were discussing this clergyman going viral on Facebook that my friend turned to me and said- that guy makes me want to go to church, he makes me curious. It was at that moment I knew I had to chat with this man. So I traveled up to Gosford to meet with Fr. Rod on a lovely NSW sunny day and what transpired was hours of laughter, thought-provoking and interesting conversation, that I have put together in a 4 part series. I hope you enjoy it. It isn’t always as expected, and it verged on curious.

Kirsten: Father Rod, one thing that has me intrigued is how you contextualize and present your message. You’re a storyteller and a brilliant theologist. I’ve had 3 atheist friends see your stuff on Facebook and have said, ‘that guy would make me want to go to the Church.’

Fr. Rodd: (smiling) We have a lot of atheist followers; or so-called atheists.

Kirsten: The moment you have someone in opposition to your beliefs asking “what has this person got to say?” is a pretty cool moment to have. Have you had non-believers that have become curious about what you teach?

Fr. Rodd: (nodding) I mean we’ve 50,000 or something followers on Facebook. I’d say a good half of them would be, probably more than half would be very least agnostic. There are a couple of very committed atheists who comment regularly. It’s terrific.

I recently spoke at the Atheist and Humanist society at the University of New South Wales. I’m fascinated by atheism. In that, the God that atheists ‘generally speaking’ -have rejected is the same God I reject. I don’t have that God either.

Kirsten: Agreed! (I’m now grinning ear to ear because this conversation is getting awesome).

Fr Rodd: And that’s the version of God that everyone should reject. It’s variations on Zeus, it really is. The idea of God sitting on the Mount, manipulating the affairs of humanity, and most theists believe in that. It’s a concept that’s been justifiably ridiculed. As it should be.

Fr Rodd: It’s a far more sophisticated concept. I just get frustrated with the superficial; I’m not saying atheists are superficial, but there’s a superficial atheism that is Dawkins’s atheism. It just sets up this straw man and knocks it down, and that shouldn’t be atheism.

Leaderboard Ponderings 3

Kirsten: Absolutely. I get incredibly excited about current science, and it seems, the more science progresses, the more it seems to prove the source of a divine architect. Or I love it when I read that Einstein and C.S Lewis started out trying to disprove the existence of a “designer” or an “architect” and could not. It hasn’t been done. Just because we don’t have the answers, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Fr. Rodd: Well I’m utterly fascinated by quantum physics.

Kirsten: Me too! (this is the bit where I have to restrain my excitement for the ME TOO moment lol)

Fr. Rodd: Because I think it is where theology and science come together, and it’s where science is almost forced to start to borrow theological language. I mean the big bang theory was first postulated by a Belgian Catholic priest, Father Georges Lemaitre and it almost required the mind of a theologian to come up with that. So that’s where I’ve been fascinated.

Kirsten: I can’t get my head around the fact that so many people do not realize that much of science was born in the church. The separation of science and theology intrigues me. The origins of science began within the Church. It was a man looking at the stars asking ‘where is God?’ that started this journey.

Leaderboard Ponderings 2

Fr. Rodd: Yeah. All the great universities started as theological colleges essentially.

Kirsten: So, tell me, how did you go with the Humanist Society?

Fr. Rodd: We had a ball!

Kirsten: Do you get thrown some curve balls?

Fr. Rodd: Well, not really because I’ve thought a lot about that kind of stuff. I sowed the seeds of doubt in the atheism. (smiling)

Kirsten: (Laughs) that is brilliant. What fun. You had answers Father Rodd! You went in prepared lol.

Fr. Rodd: Once you get beyond the superficial atheism and join them in rejecting this, there are other concepts.

Kirsten: What are you reading at the moment?

Fr. Rodd: I’m actually reading a book, by Simon Longstaff from the Ethics Center. It’s just little vignettes on ethics.
Kirsten: So, I take it that you like moral philosophy?

Fr. Rodd: I do like moral philosophy. I think part of the passion I have around some of the social issues, refugees, and climate change come from that passion for social ethics—how do we best live together as human beings?

Part Two of our Conversation Next Week: Lucifer, Game of Thrones and Why First Century Jews got it right. Oh and Dutton, we can’t forget him.

For those who would like to assist in Fr. Rod’s current quest to help go to: https://www.asrc.org.au/

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