For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: contrast.

I took this Friday, walking around north Seattle, waiting for my autoclave to finish testing. In the early morning these small flowers were by the road and scattered through a yard. For survivors everywhere: the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia and for men, women and children who have been hurt and abused and go on. For the capacity to love, to grieve and to heal.

Light leaves

I took a long walk yesterday and tried to walk very slowly. I was trying to do an outdoor version of walking meditation. Once I slowed down enough, feelings caught up with me. Mostly grief. I wanted to hurry and walk fast again, but then I thought, no, I can go slowly and let these feelings rise. Overwhelming, like grief risen to engulf me.

I wonder if that is why our culture is so hurried and so full of angst and so worried about performing and being the best.

And yet there is beauty, even in grief.

death in childbirth

When I was in residency, one of the obstetrics-gynecology faculty asked us, “Women died in childbirth. What did they die of?”

We were silent. Stumped. Infection? Well, when there was no infection control and the male physicians went from room to room with no hand washing, yes… but….

Preeclampsia? No. Not that common. Eclampsia? Ditto.

“What if a woman is in labor and the baby is stuck? What do they die of?”

Ick. “Bleeding?”

“The uterus contracts until it ruptures. It contracts until it is thinner and thinner. If there is fetal malposition or a hand presentation or transverse or certain breech positions, the uterus ruptures and both bleed to death.”

We were all silent.

When I hear people bemoaning caesarean section and too much surgery and too many interventions…. I remember what women died of. All the stepmother stories. In the 1797 diary I am reading, the “lady” dies of a fever. She is 24 years old. There is no surprise, just sorrow. The author writing is the same age and grew up with her and grieves, but goes on.

We would like to think this is in the past, but it isn’t. It still is going on, right now, in  poverty stricken areas and war zones where the hospitals have been destroyed, the medical people have left, there are no services…

When I was still delivering babies, I would tell patients: my ideal labor plan is the baby comes out and I hand it to you. And the placenta comes out and the baby nurses and I don’t seem to be doing much. But that is not always what happens. I do not have control nor do you. I will only intervene if I think it is your life or the babies life or both….


The picture is me on my maternal grandfather’s lap. I was one very lucky baby. My mother had tubuculosis through the pregnancy. She coughed blood in her 8th month. If there had not been medical care and a Tuberculosis Sanitorium to be born in, I would not be here.


On the nature of love

love is not one love is longing for one love is two
love is the other longing for the other longing for union longing for one longing for the Beloved seen in the face of the other
do not forget nor lose nor submerse yourself in the other remember there are two not one you are longing to be one that is the longing for the Beloved you must be two and remember both while longing for union while longing to be one
you can love and yet not accept abuse yet not accept ill treatment yet not accept being walked on in the name of love
you can love even one who is behaving badly and treats you ill yet you should not accept ill treatment you are to remember that there are two and you are longing for the Beloved seen in the face of the other longing for union but that does not require that the other long for the Beloved nor see the Beloved in your face
you can love even one who does not want union with you yet they long for union with the Beloved
you can love even one who is behaving badly and treats you ill you should not accept ill treatment and there may be a time when you still love and walk away still loving and longing

for there are two
not one

I took this picture of my sister and our neighbor and friend in the late 1970s, probably playing pong…