the cancer bad dream

we want to be done with it,
before it’s done with us.

you reach a point,
even in the early stage,
where you want to believe
it’s just one big bad dream, and
hopefully you’ll awaken, and
you can return to your normal life–
the life you had before cancer.

but even if you’re lucky–
meaning your prognosis is very good–
you just want the bad dream to be over.

Winter Meditation

Winter’s eve drawing nigh,
Dark clouds hover, January sky,
Fading firelight, flickers gloom,
Dancing barefoot ‘cross the room.

Huddled shadows hushing night,
In your arms hold me tight,
Sharp-edged snowflakes fall so still,
White frost clings, nearby window sill.

Longing for what’s not there,
No comfort found, my rocking chair,
Sitting still, motionless,
Holding on, memories caress.

Brutal cold winter night,
Full moon shining, oh so bright,
Sitting still by the fire,
Surrender there, all desire.

Cancer as Spiritual Teacher

For each of us, life lessons to learn,
Meaningful truths to clearly discern,
Some lessons, mere cooking recipes,
Others, more demanding therapies.

Our spirits cry out when we are in pain,
A new understanding from which we can gain,
And if we are mindful and willing to change,
By opening to spirit, our life will rearrange.

Learning from cancer seems quite odd,
But listen, you’ll hear wisdom from God,
It’s all about balance, aligned living you could say,
Finding our essence, living it each day.

The spiritual lessons so far for me:
From fear and selfishness to be free,
And walk my path with trust and love,
Guided by healing wisdom from Above.

Look at your cancer, beyond a disease,
Its lessons abound for you to seize,
Be honest about what you see,
Spiritual truth is the key.

Cancer’s No Joke, but It’s Okay to Laugh

Laughter won’t kill me, so why not bust a gut?
No harm in a chortled snicker or a devious snort
at the prissy old lady in the room next door
who punctuated the air with a loud squeaky fart.

Sitting with my bags in the northwest corner chemo suite,
I heard a nurse exclaim: Dunkin’ Donuts can’t be beat.
Then, in unison I heard everyone sigh:
the donuts are gone, so sad we could cry.

Almost peed my pants, laughing so hard,
when a senior oncologist let down his guard—
sharing advice with a young resident doctor;
straight from Mother Goose, my what a shocker:

“For every evil under the sun,
There is a remedy, or there is none.
If there be one, seek till you find it;
And when you find it, get thee behind it.”

A ride in the elevator, so very telling about life,
Shall I smoke a joint before chemo, a man asks his wife,
A punch in his chest she landed with might,
I feared at that moment there could a fight.

I urge you to give humor a chance,
Let jokes and laughter through your life dance,
Some craziness at times all of us need,
Laugh at yourself, start a healing stampede.

On Cancer and Poetry

When we have cancer,
we are willing to try anything,
including poetry,
to stay alive.

Poetry helps us step delicately
into the vast river of life,
wash off our assumptions, and
flow with the river’s healing currents.

Cancer is
the stretch of challenging rapids ahead.
Let’s brace ourselves, and
ride them with courage and grace.

Did you know poetry sometimes
can be more dangerous than cancer,
by bringing out things inside us
that we never knew were there?

When we have cancer,
let’s give poetry a try—
It’s alchemical brews
can turn our lead into gold.

A New Path with Heart Ahead

A new plan ahead for my life–
I feel it brewing in my soul.
Longings first in the mist,
then faint singing voices from afar.
Memories rise, then they fall,
‘cross roaming fields of yesterday.

At times, it takes a wake-up call–
Things both strange and familiar–
A sudden brush with death, or even
a child’s first sweet whispered words.
Each a sign, a new path ahead–
One filled with heart and soul.

A place I’ve been before, very long ago.
A partial clearing now in view, and then
a sprawling patch of cheerful wildflowers along the edge
of the narrow winding path, up the hill it goes.
There I stop, in silence listen–
The mournful wail of bagpipes, echoing across the glen.

A new beginning, all this says–
An unknown path with heart calling out to me:
Walk this way in your life,
just beyond what you know.
Fear not, for I will walk with you,
till new feet on this path you grow.

Prayer #3

God give us the vision to see reality,
and to know the truth in a living way.
Grant us the wisdom
to know ourselves and others
in a loving and kind way.

Help us transcend our pain and suffering
by using them to grow stronger
in compassion and empathy.
Help us see the world in all its beauty
without judgment and attachment.

Help us replace our pride with humility,
and live in a fully human way.
Protect us from our own self-doubt,
ignorance of higher purpose,
and for underestimating our own true potential.

Prayer #2

God help us to see past our blind spots,
including our limited view of You, others, and ourselves.
Forgive us when we didn’t sacrifice enough for others,
when our compassion fell short,
and when we could only love conditionally.

Forgive us when we didn’t thank You
for the precious gift of life
You have given us.
Help us use our gifts to honor You
and bring about goodness in the world.

Whatever the Day Brings, Let Us Be Grateful

We can learn from our pain,
even our fear of lingering uncertainty.
Let’s not squander our precious life energy
on creating puzzles, hyperbolic machinations,
and self-destructive nightmares.

Let’s seek wisdom from within ourselves,
and use it to live with our not knowing.
Hear the clarion call for self-peace,
putting an end to our self-inflicted suffering.
Whatever the day brings, let us be grateful.

Today is a New Day

Today is a new day–
a chance to heal and start over.
It’s a day for removing our cancer,
and our fear, anger, and resentment.

Today is a new day–
a opportunity to see ourselves
and the world
in a fresh healing light.

Today is a new day–
a powerful new starting point
for living fully,
and embracing our wholeness.

Today is a new day–
let’s not waste it
on pain and suffering.
Let’s live it with gratitude.

Healing is Everyone’s Job

The world is broken,
troubled with deep anger and fear,
causing people and the earth to suffer.

We contribute to the world’s suffering
when we act strictly in our own self-interests,
and fail to see how we impact others.

Some people seem to think
it’s somebody else’s job
to help the world heal.

Why do they think that way?
Maybe suffering is all they know,
and they don’t know how to heal themselves.

If we’re not healing ourselves
and helping the world to heal,
what are we doing?

Confronting Our Secrets

Everything in life
contains a secret hiding place–
a mysterious storage locker,
where we keep our deepest pain,
darkest fears,
broken promises,
shattered dreams,
false accusations,
shameful thoughts and deeds,
and other desperate acts of survival.

Let’s confront our secrets.
Acknowledge their presence,
and remember why we locked them away.
Let’s use our secrets
to find our own god of self-understanding,
and help others confront their secrets.
Let’s live courageously without secrets.
Let’s open the door of our psychic storage lockers,
let the sunlight in,
and chase the mysterious shadows away.

Ruminations on Suffering

I keep thinking–
someday we won’t suffer so much.
I keep thinking–
someday we’ll stop pretending
our suffering can save us.
I keep thinking–
there is life after death,
and life after our suffering.
In each case, we start over,
like the sun rises each morning,
and tears and the rain are reminders
to let go and allow ourselves to flow.

The Power of Change to Heal

We never know
anything for certain.
But that’s not so bad
because nothing is forever.
And in that light
we see reality,
which escapes us
when we want something different
than what is.
Let’s live in the moment,
and never doubt
the power of change to heal us.

Watching a Hummingbird Snare a Spider

The hummingbird snared and ate the spider–
straight out of the spider’s dangling web.
Not something you’d expect
on this early July evening.
But then again,
how much do we really know
about the workings of nature,
let alone the appetite of the hummingbird,
who graces our presence
with his beating wings
and unmistakeable humming song?

Returning to Our Virgin State of Wholeness

Sometimes we do things
just to survive–
to avoid our deepest pain,
which may or may not be
of our own making.
And sometimes we do things
just because we don’t know
what else to do.

I think back on my life,
and I would encourage you
to think back on yours.
And as we move forward,
let’s do things that really matter–
things with the power to transform us,
returning us to
our virgin state of wholeness.

Working Together for a Cure

Let’s close our eyes for just a moment,
and contemplate the miracle of human life.
Forty trillion cells in the body.
Each knows its job,
and each does its job
in perfect union with all others.
Maybe all of us can work together
to prevent and cure cancer.

Another Way to See Our Lives

It’s easy for all of us
to look at our lives with remorse,
and say I would’ve, could’ve, or should’ve.
We did what we did,
and we didn’t do what we didn’t do.

let’s gaze upon our lives
with gratitude and forgiveness,
grow our own self-understanding,
and deepen our compassion for others’ suffering.

Cosmic Wisdom for Those with Cancer

We are not separate
from the whole of life,
despite how we may feel at times.

Like the stars making up the Milky Way,
we give life back to the universe
that gave birth to us.

Because we have life, we have purpose.
We must trust our cosmic instincts
that echo wisdom throughout our beings.

We must trust our Divine purpose.
That is our North Star.
Where there is purpose, there is life.

When we pray or meditate,
we should allow our North Star
to fill our eyes with stardust.

When we speak,
we should allow our hearts to move our lips.
Then our words are real.

When we listen,
we should receive the universe’s quantum vibrations.
Then we hear the truth.

And when we lie down to sleep,
let us dream of cosmic wholeness.
For then, we can heal.

Placing Blame Won’t Help

We blame our cancer on our family histories,
emotional traumas scarring our bodies and souls,
how we’ve lived our daily lives,
unwarranted exposure to dangerous chemicals and pollution,
harmful preservatives in the food we love to eat,
all the undue stress and suffering in our lives,
and even a roll of the dice by God.

Like you, I’ve thought about all these possible causes,
and like you, I’ll never know exactly why I have cancer,
and for all of us, placing blame won’t make our cancer go away.
And like you, me, and everyone else,
we are impermanent beings that eventually fade away,
so let’s love life, be thankful,
and just do the best we can for as long as we can.

Going Beyond the Limits of Cancer

Nothing like a clear star-filled night sky
to make you dream,
wander beyond your normal boundaries,
and see previously unnoticed parts of yourself.

Don’t let your cancer prevent you
from seeing the magic of a summer night sky,
live your dreams,
or discover new parts of yourself.


What lights up the sky on the Fourth of July.
What lights up our bodies during radiation therapy.

No matter how sick we are,
we must continue seeing the beauty of life,
and celebrate it with color and music.

Not every day is a picnic,
but each day is precious
because we know what it is to be alive.

Let’s remind ourselves that
we are more–much more–than our cancer.
Each of us is a uniquely beautiful fireworks display!

Reiki on the Cancer Battlefield

Peaceful place on the battlefield,
where cancer cells and chemotherapy go to war.
A restful and rejuvenating oasis,
where a wearied soul refills with life force energy.
A quantum shift in the human biofield,
where waves of possibility bring healing,
and not more cellular destruction.
Comforting a cancer patient with Reiki
in a chemotherapy infusion room.

Breaths at Sunset

Like each breath we take,
no two sunsets are identical.
Like the daily breaths we take,
often we take sunsets for granted.

Like each in-breath we take,
each sunset nourishes our spirits.
Like each out-breath we take,
each sunset helps us to let go.

Tonight’s sunset over the lake
reminds me to inhale the beauty of life
with each breath I take,
and never again take a sunset for granted.

Life and Death: Two Sides of the Same Quantum Coin

Life and death–
Two sides of the same quantum coin.
Heads you win, tails you lose.
Call the flip.
Tails you win, heads you lose.
Call it again.

What our consciousness manifests
when we flip the coin.
What consciousness manifests
when we flip the coin.

Life and death–
Two sides of the same quantum coin.

Experiencing the Speed of Life

Pay attention to life’s details,
especially the infinitesimally small things
that bring you happiness and joy.
Marvel at how quickly each moment passes by
with each breath you take.
This is the speed of life.

Experience the surprise in everything.
Don’t prejudge what’s to come.
Notice how no two moments are the same,
like snowflakes or grains of sand.
This is you
An ever-changing wave of possibility.

Gratitude for the Rain

I am thankful for my life–
just the way it is.
It’s easy to forget–
life is one great miracle,
and each of us has had the chance
to experience life’s wonder and magic.

On this rainy Thursday morning,
I am grateful for the rain,
and how it nourishes and cleanses the earth.
Without it, there would be no flowers.
In a soulful way, the rain reminds us it is okay
for us to cry tears of joy and sorrow.

Because of the rain this morning,
I can see the world reflected
in a single raindrop dangling
from the screen in my front window.
In this moment, I give thanks for the rain,
and the blessings it brings to my life.

“Last Time” Awareness

The world looks different to us
with the awareness that
this may be the last time
we will ever see it again.

At these times,
goodbyes, no matter how grand,
appreciative, or reverent,
ring with lingering hollowness.

And memories, even the most precious,
become razor-sharp two-edged swords,
reminding us of what we will miss
and what we will never see again.

Even the deepest understanding
of reality’s impermanent nature
doesn’t prevent us from grasping at
what we love and what has given us pleasure.

A Prayer Honoring Our Wholeness

In this moment, I am whole.
All parts of me are working together
to promote healing and well-being.
My body receives wisdom from my mind and spirit.
My mind is given nourishing embodiment from my body
and life force energy from my spirit.
My spirit permeates all that I am,
and it is the source of all my future possibilities.
With each breath, I am connected to God.
I give thanks for this connection and my wholeness.

What We Self-Reflect After Death

When we die, we become disembodied spirits.
And the only thing we self-reflect in this form
is the encoding our souls have retained from their past lives.

We don’t remember our bodies or personalities.
Not our life events, people we knew,
or even the places and times in which we lived.

It’s not until our souls are re-embodied
that we may form faint and fleeting recollections
of our earlier embodied forms.

That’s the way it’s supposed to be
so that it’s possible for our souls to evolve
toward their own Divine perfection.

Hard Things to Imagine

Hard to imagine
being dead,
since all we know
is being alive.

Hard to imagine
life after death,
since all we know
is being alive.

Hard to imagine
dreaming of things
beyond our experience,
but we do this every day.

Hard to imagine
when we’re dead and gone,
absent any reason to remember,
that our dreams will bring us back to life.

Coping with Our Fear

We can conquer our fear–
of cancer,
the pain it causes us,
and the prospect of death.

Our fear feeds our cancer–
making it grow larger than life.
Let’s make the choice
not to feed our cancer.

The starting point is
feeling our fear,
getting to know it,
then over time letting it go.

Cancer isn’t our fear.
Fear is what we experience
when we feel unprepared
to confront lingering uncertainty.

Reality is uncertain by nature.
Certainty is an illusion
that we hold onto
to stave off our deepest fears.

We have but this moment
at any point in our life.
Let’s work on living fearlessly,
breath by breath in each moment.

Thoughts on the Afterlife

Cancer reminds us of our mortality–
That is the time when we run out of time,
at least in our present form.

When our bodies die,
our cancer dies,
at least in its physical form.

Most of us,
including those with and without cancer,
believe that a part of us survives physical death.

I was raised to believe everyone has a soul,
which either goes to heaven or hell,
depending upon the good and bad in our life.

I still believe that everyone has a soul,
but instead of going to heaven or hell,
the soul returns to the ultimate life source.

Also I believe the soul has many lives–
which we don’t really remember, or only faintly recall,
as the soul moves from one life to another.

I don’t believe our personalities carry over.
Instead, I believe that our consciousness
and our basic spiritual pattern carries over.

Maximizing the use of our highest spiritual potential strikes me
as a good thing in this life and all future lives.
If we do that, we can’t lose!

Who Are We?

If we are not who we think we are,
then who are we?
We are that which comes before
who we think we are.
We are the knowing beings
that witness the unfolding world
created by each breath we take.
I am that, and
you are that.

Inspired by the spiritual teachings of Bodhisattva Dan Shimp of many places,
but always of the heart.

Thoughts While Watering the Grass and Flowers This Morning

Cancer calls our attention to the small things in life,
like the simple beauty of watering the grass and flowers.
It reminds us of all the small things comprising our lives,
and why and how they are important to us.

It reminds us of the intricate details of life,
including the multitude of cells in our body,
and how misguided cells can grow and multiply,
creating malignant tumors in our body.

Cancer teaches us to constantly nourish ourselves,
like we weed and water the grass and flowers,
to bring about personal health and vitality,
and help the right things to flourish in our lives.

And when we are ready,
cancer can connect us to our inner wisdom–
those lessons our souls want us to learn
so they can reach their destinies.

Our Inner Wisdom Voices

Find your inner wisdom voice–
There lies your personal truth.
Listen past your fears–
They drown out what is true for you.
Look beyond your anger–
Which often is buried under your fear.
Set aside your desires and wants, and
listen to what your inner wisdom voice says
about what you need to become whole and heal.

Cancer Lesson: Empathy and Caring

Cancer can be a powerful teacher,
if we allow it to be.
One lesson it teaches:
Healing is a shared journey,
with those we love, and
with other cancer survivors.

When attacked, self-preservation is our first instinct.
That’s fine, as long as we also have empathy for others.
What we think and feel has everything to do
with what happens to our bodies.
A lack of caring for ourselves and others
is a spark lighting cancer fires.

Lighting a Prayer Candle

Our hearts are warmed when a far-off friend
expresses prayerful intentions for us
by lighting a candle in his parish,
symbolizing his prayer for our healing.

Each of us is a candle lit at birth by God.
And we grow in His favor
each time we use our candle to light others,
and dispel darkness in the world.

On the First Day of December

Six years ago,
On the first day of December,
My life flashed before my eyes
Like nothing I can remember.

Things I used to take for granted:
My work, the kids, and my wife,
And even smaller things like morning coffee,
Those things that make up ordinary life.

For months I ignored the dull aching pain,
Till it spread across my pelvis, ribs, and lower back.
And then gave way to such sheer agony,
I felt my body battered and under attack.

My doctor ran the usual tests.
All were normal, but for one.
My PSA was way too high.
More tests were ordered to be run.

Within days, the wellspring of my misery known:
Stage III prostate cancer, which had spread.
In a flash, radiation, surgery, hormone therapy.
Without of course, I’d be dead.

Since that time, a celebration of life is held,
Come rain or shine, each first day of December.
Each year, month, week, and day,
We dearly cherish and prayerfully remember.

Our Scars

Let’s be truthful about our scars in life,
And how we got them.
They’re not just about our injuries and pain–
Our scars reflect how we’ve lived our lives.

Sometimes we learn more from our scars
Than the stripes we wear on our sleeves,
Or all the awards we’ve won.
Let’s be truthful about our scars in life.

We are capable of healing,
But not always in the way we hope.
Healing deeply inside is most important–
These scars tell the real stories of our lives.