Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Level Ground

My foot stands on level ground; in the great congregation I will bless the Lord.
Psalm 26:12

Mountains are awe-inspiring, but I don’t much like them. I’m a prairie person and not fond of cities; I like to see where I am and where I’m going, and both mountains and skyscrapers get in the way. I don’t even like jutting sidewalks broken up by tree roots.
Israel is hilly country, so I can only imagine the comfort that standing on level ground gave to the psalmist. Terra firma, we call it, ignoring the possibility of earthquakes.
            This afternoon I returned to level ground after the funhouse-like effect of seeing a check-up for ovarian cancer on my calendar. I’ve spent the last few days feeling much as I did when trying to walk the first time I put on bifocals—the sidewalks kept coming up to meet me, the stairs were located in odd places. Perspective was skewed, if not lost.
            Yesterday, for example, I couldn’t find my driver’s license. It was in my purse, right where it was supposed to be, but I couldn’t see it. I was also having a mini-meltdown over my cat finding a second mouse in the kitchen. My stomach was upset. All because I was meeting my gynecologic oncologist, a man I adore—he did save my life, after all—who probably didn’t have bad news for me.
            Indeed, he did not. I am fine, he is pleased, and we will continue our twice-yearly meetings until January 2013, after which I will come only once a year in perpetuity. I enjoy talking with him—he’s one of those doctors who actually comes into the room, sits down, and doesn’t take his eyes off the patient. We cover other, non-cancer-related topics. He sometimes asks about my writing.
            Tonight I was privileged to talk to another woman who grew up in my hometown, one of the Midwest Rust belt cities. All the belts were whirring, the factories spewing toxins into the air and our child-bodies. She still lives in the area, and told me that studies were being done in the south part of town, because people there are dying prematurely. Her father died of a disease he got working in one of the factories.
            I am, in so many ways, one of the lucky ones, blessed beyond belief.

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