|As I crawl out from under a bout of influenza A, which was made dangerous for me by my anti-rejection drugs, I contemplate genetics, and how my family has been seriously impacted by auto-immune disease. Somehow aspects of my environment triggered my immune system to go into overdrive and attack the biliary mitochondria in my liver as though attacking a foreign body. My transplant has not eliminated my body’s tendency to do this; it was not a cure. It has given me some more years if I am fortunate, and I struggle to understand what has happened to me and to adjust to my new chimeric life.
|While spending day after day in bed recovering from the flu, I read Carl Zimmer’s book She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, about the history of heredity and the impact of science upon our understanding of it. The book ended with the author pondering about gene editing of human eggs and embryos (CRISPR), which is currently in the global news as scientists struggle with the ethics and wisdom of using this powerful technology. My head is spinning with all this: I am creeped out by it, and can envision disaster resulting from gene editing, but had the gene(s) responsible for my immune system’s unwarranted attack been successfully edited away, my transplant would have been unnecessary, and I would not have passed such genes on to my children and grandchildren. That is a heavy burden. If, if, if.
|Although I learned about mitochondria in science class in high school, it was Madeleine L’Engle’s science/fictional account of Charles Wallace’s illness in A Wind in the Door that first reawakened my curiosity about mitochondria when my children were young. At that time I had no idea how important mitochondria would become in my life. However, it was not L’Engle’s forces of cosmic evil which messed with my mitochondria, but genetics and environment. My love of science fiction is accompanied by my life-long love of science. After all, my father taught genetics at the university level. <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Wind_in_the_Door”>
|Myth, science, science fiction, religion, folklore, myth….I love it all. It is about trying to understand our place in the cosmos and on Earth. In a confusing, fast-paced, and precarious world, Spring brings me hope. Spring = new life. Today is my donor’s 30th birthday. Happy birthday, Robb! I would not be here without your extremely generous and miraculous gift of part of your liver. I am grateful every day.|
Archive for the ‘Mythology’ Category
The Autumn Equinox ~ Stepping into the power of the dark part of the yearly cycle.
This is the time when the dark, which has been growing, is in balance with the light. We are grateful for the Harvest, but we also know that Life is waning.
This is time of year when Persephone descends to the Underworld to access her deep wisdom and compassion in caring for the dead. It is the time of her mother Demeter’s grief and sorrow, and with her we weep for our losses.
This year, Mabon, or the Autumn Equinox, is especially meaningful for me. In the past few months I have gone through losses due to an autoimmune disease signaled by a medical emergency in May. Since then, I have not posted much, because I have been resting, regaining strength by walking, and most difficult, getting used to my new life. Some days are good, others are not so good. Until I wake in the morning, I do not know whether I’ll be incapacitated by fatigue, or whether I’ll be able to do some work or visit a friend.
Some days I feel that life is indeed waning. This Equinox I enter the underworld of chronic illness and seek whatever wisdom I am able to glean from this dark place. Certainly I am learning much about patience, loss, compassion, and stepping into my power as I deal with the medical community. The dark also feels womb-like at times, and I can even appreciate how this hermit-life may suit me. This is a perfect time of year for introspection, for seeking wisdom.
Will you be descending to the underworld this Autumn?
For those interested in myth, metaphor, and meaning, above and below are links to the movie Mythic Journeys I mentioned in my last post. The stop motion “Bone Orchard” part of the film was screened at the event I just attended; to see the rest, I purchased the 2 DVD set. The imagery is beautiful, and the words are inspiring. The “tree girl” pictured on these banners was based on the work of Virginia Lee, artist Alan Lee’s daughter. And the “Bone Orchard” segments of the film are based on puppets crafted by Brian and Wendy Froud.
Today my daughter and I returned from another realm, where we spent a weekend immersed in myth, story, music, and art.
Here are photos taken just before the Good Faeries Ball (I recycled my Halloween costume for this):
And just before the Bad Fairies Ball:
We also attended panels of writers and artists, including Brian and Wendy Froud, Jane Yolen, and others.
Of particular interest to me was the session by Whitney and Steven Boe on their film Mythic Journeys, about the importance of myth, enchantment, and spirituality for our lives.
A handmade bench provided a focal point. It is really a headboard but framed a bench for this event.
It was a special weekend.