Roadside Chats (21)
I’m lifting a carton of books when it happens. The dream-world draws close. Dream images leap in and out of focus… they’re too fast for identification. Something’s happening to my brain. I retreat to the camper to rest. Resting helps… but it doesn’t make it go away.
An hour and a half later I emerge from the camper. I have my bag packed. I go inside and tell my daughter what’s going on. It’s 11.15pm as we head for Christchurch hospital.
So far my trip to the West Coast & Christchurch has gone well. I’ve had a great time in Blackball; especially a long conversation with author Barry Brailsford. I feel a writer’s kinship with Barry. Barry’s read my book & knows of my journey. ‘Keep writing’ he urges.
Now something may be wrong with my brain. My memory is patchy. My cognition has slowed. Sita stays with me till I’m admitted to the assessment ward. I feel vulnerable.
They doctors test me for a stroke. I have a CT scan. The consultant & his team visit. They tell me the scan is clear. They’ve ruled out a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA). ‘Probably we’ll never know;’ the consultant says. ‘Maybe there was a ‘tiny brain event’ that’s come & gone.’
I feel very relieved… though I continue to feel vulnerable. I live alone in the isolation of the upper Wakamarina Valley. If I have a stroke I won’t be allowed to drive. If I can’t drive I can’t live at Deep Song.
In the days that follow I rest in the camper. I feel bushed. My head feels thick.
It feels like I’m passing some sort of marker. Death feels close; yet, so does life. I feel very ‘in the heart.’ I particularly value my family. Life feels precious. I feel into it; value & savour, write:
For love is the poem
That speaks at the end
A hand in the dark
The touch of a friend
The Green Christ continues to ply me with sayings. I scrawl dozens in my diary:
‘I am a voice & a language… a connector… a collector of verbs… a march of doing… a reorganisation of fundamentals… a re-entry of light’
‘The light has become blocked… stilted & diffused in language cages… It needs to be released two by two… (In opposites)… juggling… forewarning… re-producing…’
(It is…) ‘The ancient way… never lost… never found… where life abounds’
(I am part of…) ‘The writeious… the coinhibitors… the anointers of the double shift… the poetic inheritance… the mediumation… the double tone… the river crossing… the solitary divergence… the ancient of ways…
the parallel sunset…’
I know I’m being called by ‘something’ VAST. Yet, this ‘something’ lives far beyond the language & framework I normally inhabit:
‘I live beyond that one… in a frame and language you do not use…’
While I’ve begun calling the source of the sayings ‘the Green Christ’ I’m aware of the danger of creating systems. The source of the sayings is beyond language.
‘Something’s awakened… but it’s impossible to name or claim it’
What can’t be ‘named or claimed’ continues to use ‘Christian’ images… yet it uses these images in poetic ways which stretch beyond the ordering & framing of regular ‘Christian’ systems.
‘The steps of the wild goose are contagious’ 1
I continue to reflect on my calling as a writer. The poetic imagery of the sayings awes me.
‘The startled participant’
Meanwhile… everyday life goes on… my grandchildren come knocking on the door of the camper… they love visiting & have discovered I have a stockpile of small peppermints. ‘Granddad can we have a mint becomes their ever present mantra.
I feel exhausted. My backs gone out. I’m in constant pain. I hobble down to Barrington Mall to shop. Cars speed past. I know the people in the cars live lives that are culturally conditioned & disconnected from the world of soul & spirit. The Green Christ calls this way of life; ‘dead’ or ‘asleep.’ I create 5 little poems around the theme of ‘the speed of life.’ The ‘speed of life’ is the speed of the awakened: It’s the speed of presence; the speed of being; the speed of the heart.2
The speed of life
I email my neighbours Alan & Kath. They’re in Perth preparing to shift permanently to the Wakamarina. I know they’ll be in New Zealand soon. I tell them about my hospital visit. I say I may not be back up the valley for a week or so. I will need time to recover before I’m well enough to drive.
Their reply is swift. They have a plan. They arrive Friday. They offer to drive me home on Saturday. I feel tears spill down my cheek. I accept with gratitude.
Saturday evening & I’m back at Deep Song. As I step from the door of the camper the weka’s go nuts. They race round in circles screeching. What a welcome! I feel a big sigh of relief.
1 ‘The Wild Goose’ is a Celtic expression for the Holy Spirit
2 The five ‘speed of life poems’ are on my website: www.alchlemicalpsalms.com
Roadside Blessings – Kevin – 21/3/16