I'm going to die anyway, he said. So why should I quit smoking now?
The doctors agree. At this point, quitting would only add unnecessary stress. And the objective at this point is to eliminate stress, to create around him a space where he knows some comfort, some ease, some grace and dignity, in spite of the pain.
In spite of the pain and fear of dying, he is strong. In spite of the knowing his life is measured in days and hours, not years, he continues to flirt, to politely express his gratitude for the small things people do to make his day more comfortable, to make his presence known.
Last week, I gave a tour of the DI, the homeless shelter where I work to an amazing man, Mark Horvath. Mark has created a website where he celebrates PEOPLE, Invisible People. The people who tell their stories at Invisible People are human beings who happen to be experiencing homelessness. Mark has travelled across the US and is hoping to do the same in Canada, interviewing people who are homeless and giving voice to their stories. Today is Mark's birthday -- Happy Birthday Mark -- This link will take you to a video he shared of his conversation with Terry while at the DI last week. I wrote about Terry's Big Day riding a horse and penning cattle, here . In spite of the cancer, and his pain, Terry took the time to chat and smile, to be welcoming to Mark.
It's the' in spite of' that gets me.
Rumi scholar and a man with a melted chocolate voice Coleman Barks, suffered a stroke at the end of February and it is his voice that is hampered. Coleman Barks (whose reading of This We Have Now I posted yesterday) is healing and still he takes time to offer up a note to strangers and readers who follow him. In spite of his situation, he wants to ease the concern of others. Joyceanne over at Peaceful Legacies posted a copy of his email here -- it is a testament to the dignity and the greatness of the man.
It is a day of 'in spite of'.
In spite of the time change, time keeps passing without speeding up the events across the Pacific that would give closure to the pain and agony of an island nation.
And in spite of the devastation of the past 72 hours, in spite of the earthquake and the Tsunami and the fires and the horror and the pain and the fear and the desperation, the Japanese people are holding onto their politeness. "Glue of politeness holds nation together" writes Laura King in the Los Angeles times.
In spite of one man's journey through cancer, in spite of the disaster in Japan, beauty abounds in the space between each of us, the spaces that connect us. It is in those spaces, love, hope, light, possibility exists.
And so, in spite of the sorrow and pain in the world today, and because of the sorrow and pain in the world today, I choose to share something of beauty. Ruth, at synch-ro-ni-zing shared a post with me yesterday that she wrote November 4th, 2007, The Music, the Dance, about an evening she spent listening to Coleman Barks read Rumi while David Darling played cello and magic filled the air. Today, she's posted a powerful piece, Disaster, and why we write and at the end of her post, she shares a YouTube video of one amazing man's magic transforming a tray of water-filled glasses into music that speaks to the majesty and the magnificence of humankind.
I share it to express my gratitude and my awe and love and respect of humankind. In spite of the destruction all around and because of it, I offer this video to remind each of us that no matter the weather, the times, the happenings around us, life is sacred, life is divine, life is all we have to live. Let's celebrate it and eachother, in good times and bad, in Love. Let us support each other, care for each other, give to each other. Let us hold eachother together through Love.