Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Night Thoughts

It is 4.30 in the morning and I am having difficulty sleeping. Yesterday they sneaked a powerful steroid, dexamethasone, in with my now regular midday intravenous ondansetron to give extra oomph to the fight against nausea. Steroids are fantastic tonics, stimulants, whatever, but not recommended for prolonged periods. Dex is four times as potent as prednisolone, which I received early on in my career with this disease; I was told that would have me doing the ironing in the small hours, although what actually happened was that I watched lots of DVDs and catch-up TV. It was all productive, honest. Imagine what stimulating company Dex has proved to be in our brief acquaintance.

I have dozed, but here I am again with my eyes wide open and with my mind full of a train of thought which has been racing through my mind and which I feel I must try and set down before it disappears into the darkness of the next tunnel.

It all started with the idea that medical treatment is a seesaw or tightrope between nice and noxious extremes, Dex at this moment forming the point of balance. I then had the less gymnastic notion of treatment as a dance. In the treatment dance there are some major moves ahead as the chemo brings my health down and other elements, the principal one being my own stem cells, enter the courtly circle and stop the whole pattern's falling into disarray and my demise being unreasonably hastened. Yes, there will be some crushed toes, embarrassing gaffes and spilled drinks, but there are dancers involved who know the moves better than we novices and on the dance will go.

The thought train did not stop there, as I then had a vision of life itself as a dance, where along with smiles, joy and laughter, there are also those whose moves challenge the integrity of the whole. This week alone we have seen plenty of fights and scuffles and some have even left the dance for good, not of their own volition, but pushed out by those who think their moves are better.

If you have been following this blog you will know that I seek to follow Christ, called, with good reason and among many other names, The Lord of The Dance. I have been brought up in and experienced a number of dance styles in the Christian tradition but what endures is the deep conviction that this life is more than the temporary fleeting thing it seems initially. Not just that though: even if it is more than temporary and fleeting, it is nevertheless crucial that we live it a moment at a time, recognising its delicacy and vulnerability to changing circumstance. At this point the wise, whether they see themselves as of faith or not, find common ground and can dance together. As a Christian I long and pray for all to see the richness I have experienced in belief, but I never any more can accept that any are excluded from The Great Dance of The King other than by their own conscious choice. The way I choose to live is with St Paul, a man horribly misunderstood in our time, who said "for me to live is Christ, to die is gain". Live in the now, eternity will take care of itself.

The Lord of the Dance exhorts us not to judge, lest we ourselves be judged and I strive to live by this while also being aware that decisions need to be made as to what will ensure the dance continues or what will not only end it but bring the ballroom down on our heads.

Take the recent riots. I believe it is right for The Prime Minister to challenge attitudes and cultures that have caused such destruction to our towns, cities, relationships and businesses. I hope though that he also has wise and strong words to say to all of us about our role in the dance, including those of us with stronger family ties, education or material wealth. What have we done to encourage some to see themselves as poor dance partners? The dance is complex and there is a place for all, even the banker currently scattering all before him in his Aston Martin as if he cannot get away from the ballroom fast enough. Please do not think, by the way, that every time I see an Aston Martin I do not find myself breaking the tenth Commandment; "my neighbour's ass" may have indeed gone through some major design changes since Moses brought the tablets down Mount Sinai, but an ass it remains and its owner is still my neighbour, whether or not he or I remember that.

I love and pray for all who read this, some of you well known to me, others not at all. I value your prayers and your positive thoughts, not least as I approach what I have consistently been told is an inevitable stay in a hospital, even if it is of Aston Martin excellence.

Two of my dearest friends, currently celebrating 30 years of marriage, are respectively a priest and a choreographer. People look at their union and rejoice. This too encourages the vision I have tried to outline here. I hope you have found it interesting; if not, you can blame Dex.

1 comment:

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32t678b5Py4&feature=related