books for the soul
i seem to fill my time up more with reading than drawing as of late. if it not fluff to make me forget my pain for awhile or research for a possible idea for a webcomic, i have noticed that i'm leaning more towards books with a spiritual side.

ken's parents presented me with a copy of The Journey by Bill Graham for my birthday, along with other nice things. Jocelyn treated me to dinner and a copy Henri J.M. Nouwen's Life of the Beloved. i haven't started The Journey yet, but i am in the middle of Life of the Beloved and am enjoying it so far.

but it was a week or so ago, while at the library, i picked up a couple of Madeleine L'Engle novels that i had never read in my youth and decided to try for light reading. one, A House Like A Lotus, turned out to have some passages that made me think...I wasn't even looking for something with insight, but here God places it in my lap.

Ursula, a neurosurgeon, is speaking with teenage Polly:
"Sometime I'm going to take a real sabbatical. But it's been good for me to keep my hand in during all these months. Norris Ormsby called me in today on an interesting and tragic case, a young woman in her thirties who has had a series of brain tumors. Benign, in her case, is a mockery. After her first surgery, some nerves were cut, and her face was irrevocable distorted, her mouth twisted, one eye partly closed. A few days ago another tumor was removed, and several more smaller ones were discovered. I agreed with the decision not to do further surgery. She said that she is looking with her mind's eye at the tumors, willing them to shrink, seeing them shrink. And she quoted Benjamin Franklin to me: Those things that hurt, instruct. An extraordinary woman. A holy woman. She looks at her devastated face in the mirror, and she says, she still does not recognize herself. But there is no bitterness in her. She sails, and as soon as she gets out of the hospital she plans to sail, solo, to Bermuda. At sea, what she looks like is a matter of complete counter to general thinking today, where we're taught to avoid pain and seek pleasure. Pain needs to be moved though, not avoided."
Polly, speaking with her older friend, Maximiliana, who is speaking of loss and life after explaining about her infant daughter that only lived a few days:
"There isn't anything that happens that can't teach us something," she said, "that can't be turned into something positive. One can't undo what's been done, but one can use it creatively." She look at me and her eyes were seasilver. "I'm glad I had the experience of having a baby. I wouldn't undo it, have it not have happened. The only thing is to accept, and let the scar heal. Scar tissue is the strongest tissue in the body. Did you know that?"
"So I shouldn't be surprised if it's the strongest part of the soul."
Maximiliana, reads a passage in a book to Polly, after talking about just what a soul is:
She took a long drink and put her glass down. "Do you believe in the soul, Polly?" Max never hesitated to ask cosmic questions out of the blue.
"Yes." I thought maybe she'd turn her scorn on me, but she didn't.
"So, what is it, this thing called a soul?"
This scarred thing, full of adhesions. "It's-it's your you and my me."
"What do you mean by that?"
"It's what makes us us, different from anybody else in the world."
"Like snowflakes? You have seen snow, haven't you-yes, of course you have. All those trillions of snowflakes, each one different form the other?"
"More than snowflakes. The soul isn't-ephemeral."
"A separate entity from the body?"
I shook my head. "I think it's part. It's the part that-well, in your painting of the harbor at Rio, it's the part which made you know what paint to use, which brush, how to make it alive."
Max looked at the silver pitcher, sparkling with drops, as though it were a crystal ball. "So it's us, at our highest and least self-conscious."
"That's sort of what I mean."
"The amazing thing is that one's soul, or whatever one calls it, is strongest when one is least aware. That's when the soul is most aware. We get in our own way, and that diminishes our souls." She pushed up from her chair and headed toward the table, which was already set with silver and china. "Be an angel and bring the food out to the verandah."
We ate comfortably together. Max had a book with her and began leafing through it, looking for something.
"There's a passage our conversation reminds me of..."
"In the Upanishads-a series of Sanskrit works which are part of the Veda. Here it is, Pol, listen: In this body, in this town of Spirit, there is a little house shaped like a lotus, and in that house there is a little space. There is as much in that little space within the heart as there is in the whole world outside. Maybe that little space is the reality of your you and my me?"
what did i learn?
that in this current culture, this current day and age, we run from pain, when it is what makes us stronger. Oh, no one ever said it would be easier to bear and live through, but it makes you a better person, if you let it. If you wallow in grief, despair or bitterness, you will never grow or become strong.

jocelyn and i had a good long talk while she was here. she says she thinks i'm going to make it.
we talked of many things, but i think, from what i can remember...it has been a week, about the soul and where you go at death and such.
"You're doing all the right things and saying all the right things," she told me after explaining that she's seen some folks wither away or let bitterness take over after a death. She said that she could see me become the person who i'm meant to be...like she was awed to get to see it.
it make me think, who am i? who was i before ken died and who will i become?
even i can see some difference, but i just don't know what's to come.

i don't talk about religion much, simply because i don't want to seem the pushy type of christian who shames or guilts you into church or the type that beats you over the head with a bible into submission. no one ever converts anyone in the manner truly, but they have given us all such a bad rap, so i keep silent and avoid awkward situations or accidentally insulting someone.
i do believe that God is going to help me through this and that he will make it work out for the better. no, it's not what i wanted, but i will deal. it'll be okay. He knows i'm hurting and He'll find a way for me to use that pain into becoming something else, someone better, maybe even who i'm meant to be.

i am aware that it will not be easy, pleasant and could even possibly be scary. but i cant' just sit here and wallow until i die. ken wouldn't want that. i think he would be very disappointed if i did. just like he would be if i gave up art and life in general. i've come to believe the suicide is the most selfish act a human can do. they think it's an easier way or that it will be better for everyone else, but it's not. it's worse...i can't explain it well, but it's the reason i have for keeping going everyday, besides the fear of disappointed ken and well, who knows what the Big Guy Upstairs has in store.

today is one of my better days. misty-eyed but no uncontrollable sobs. and that brings me to another thing...
i have learned a few things over the past few months about that fateful day when ken was taken from me.
as they were trying to keep him awake until the ambulance arrived, ken's parents heard him speak, slurred and mumbly. they weren't always able to make out what he was trying to tell them. through krista, i learned that ken's father thought he heard ken say, "take care of kathryn for me." i got teary-eyed when i heard.

and at the hospital, after the surgery and the terrible diagnosis, krista decided to go see him one last time before they took him away for the organ donation. she laid her head on his chest.
their cousin, dennis, and krista's boyfriend, greg, both swear they say ken turn his head to krista and try to move an arm, as if he was going to give her a reassuring hug. krista didn't notice anything. dennis and greg told her and the family. ken's folks see it as God gave ken a chance to say goodbye to krista, for she needed it greatly.
i admit, i'm a little jealous when i hear about it, but i don't begrudge her either. it has been hard on all of us, and she knew him far longer than i.

i think i've done enough introspection and thought for now.