Last Friday my oncologist gave me the best birthday present I could have imagined. (My birthday was 7:30 pm last night December 20, California time.) Without going into details, my latest CT scan was so much more positive than the last one that it feels like a miracle. I have reason to hope.
Today I am full of gratitude. I am grateful to my doctor Dimitrios Mavroudis who is the head of Oncology at the University of Crete and at the Pagni Hospital in Heraklion. I am grateful to medical science for the chemotherapy that is healing my body.
I am grateful for the national health system of Greece that is covering the cost of my treatment because I am a Greek citizen even though I never contributed to the national health insurance.
I am grateful to the nurses at the Pagni hospital who are unfailingly kind as they take my blood and regulate my chemotherapy.
I am grateful to Vera Dervesi, my cleaning lady and now friend, who with her husband Eddie, took me to the hospital where I was diagnosed, and who has helped me finish unpacking and moving in to my new apartment, and for her sweet presence in my home that soothes my soul.
At the time of my first not so positive CT, I read a book by my friend Shanti Jones’ sister Dale Figtree about curing her cancer through visualization and diet after the medical treatments were declared a failure. This prompted me to focus my meditation on the healing powers of the Sacred Myrtle Tree and the Panagia of Paliani, the convent I had just revisited following a deep intuition, and on the healing energies, prayers, and love that are being sent to me by my friends. I am grateful to Shanti and Dale for guiding me in this direction.
In my meditation, I sing “Oh oh heal me, heal me Goddess heal me,” followed by “Resting in the arms of the Mother Goddess, I open myself to the healing power of the Sacred Myrtle Tree and the Panagia Paliani and to the healing energies, prayers, and meditations being sent to me by friends and relatives.” I may or may not name names. Sometimes I call on the ancestors. I finish my meditation by repeating a song that is a variation on Julian of Norwich’s prayer: “I shall be well, I shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.”
I am grateful to Cristina Nevans who sends the healing energy of the Blue Buddha in her daily meditations and who calls from Athens nearly every day to cheer me and to remind me that she loves me. I am grateful to Ellen Boneparth who Skypes at least once a week from Virginia to check on me. I am grateful to my second cousin Bill Christ who emails me every week from Texas, sending his love, and to my first cousin Dave Calfee in California who invited me to stay in his home if I needed to be treated in the United States. To Patrick Scanlon in Ireland to who arranged for a mass in my name. To Eirini Delaki in Valencia, Spain, who includes prayers for me in all of her women’s rituals. To Miriam Robbins Dexter in Los Angeles, who sends me Reiki healing every day. To Christina Moustakaki in Skoteino, Crete who lights candle for me in the church of Saint Nikolas. To my friend the nun Theofilakti who lights a candle for me every day at the Holy Myrtle Tree of Paliani.
I am grateful to Natassa Kanaki who lights candles for me to Saint Foteini in Pachia Ammos, Crete, assuring me that I will be well, stating that I will light a very big candle in her church in the harbor when I am healed. I am grateful to Mara Keller who shares her cancer story and helps me to understand what is happening to me. To Alexis Masters who calls me in the early mornings and sends prayers every day. To Jenifer Giannakou and Mary Staples and Janet Gibbard who call from Molivos and to Laura Shannon who calls from Athens almost every day. To Chloe Erdmann in New York who shares the Moon Salutation yoga and meditation with me via Skype. To Naomi Goldenberg who calls from Ottowa. To my pal and co-author Judith Plaskow who sent a Kindle. To Joyce Zonana who sent daily photos of her new kittens as I was beginning chemo that made me smile. To Dina Adam and Ruth Mantin who sent flowers. To Barbara Dahling and her husband Hatta who brought a delicious catered meal and joined me in the first “party” in my new home. I am also grateful to many other friends not named here and to followers of my work, including you in the FAR community who have sent your wishes and prayers for my healing.
I am grateful to Eirini Kouraki who was with me when I first learned my diagnosis and at my first treatment. I am grateful to Martina Sterbova who grocery shops for me every 10 days and visits me afterwards. To Adamantia Koutalaki who insisted I must have a Christmas tree and who helped me to decorate it. To Kostas Aggelakis, my architect, who has expressed great concern about my illness and who runs errands for me that I cannot do myself. I am grateful to new friends Jack Dempsey and his wife Angie who joined me for Sunday lunches at a restaurant in the Heraklion marina before the quarantine and will do so again when it is ended.
I am grateful to my taxi drivers Manolis and Vangelis who take me where I need to go and willingly and lovingly offer their arms to steady me as I walk to the cab or my destination.
There are so many people who have helped me in large and small ways these past months. I have needed a lot of help, and I have been astonished at how willingly it has been offered by friends, acquaintances, and strangers. It is not easy for me to ask for help, but necessity is a teacher, and I am learning a great deal about human kindness. For that too I am grateful.
A heartfelt thank you to all of you who have helped me in this time of need.
With your help, “I shall be well, I shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.”
Carol P. Christ is an internationally known feminist and ecofeminist writer, activist, and educator who lives in Heraklion, Crete. Carol’s recent book is Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology. Carol has been leading Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete for over twenty years: join her in Crete. Carol’s photo by Michael Honneger.
Listen to Carol’s a-mazing interview with Mary Hynes on CBC’s Tapestry recorded in conjunction with her keynote address to the Parliament of World’s Religions.