After almost two years work in a very different field, we are finally back on the Permaculture track, and more enthusiastic than ever. But why the pause in the first place?

I’d been living as most of us do; as if I was immortal. Like all of us, I was not. Far from it. Two years ago I discovered that I had significant liver cancer. It was made clear to me that without rapid surgical intervention, my chances of survival for more than months was very remote.

Gosh, shock! I’ve always been so outrageously fit and full of energy, have practiced yoga daily for more than 35 years, and felt self-righteously in close contact with my body and the ebb and flow of its daily changes. A sensitive fellow. Ha ha, I don’t think. If I was so sensitive, how was it possible for a life-threatening situation to grow inside me while I obliviously sailed on in blissful ignorance?

Blessed by such good health, I’ve been able to maintain a resistance to ‘conventional’ medicines, although not to the extent that I refused anti-venom when a deadly snake bit me, nor resorted to anti-biotics when all else failed to clear up festering skin problems. I accepted the warning, and within a month had been operated to remove the cancer. Successfully.

However, it was too little too late, and my liver went into rapid degeneration, during which time all efforts to find chemical balances in my body failed. The liver is an extraordinary organ, the ‘big metaboliser’ of the body, as well as detox-ing, synthesising proteins and a host of other signficant roles. I was dying, and it became clear that without a liver transplant, my time in this world was most likely to be very short.

I won’t go into all the graphic details of this prolonged adventure, but it involved renal failure, lung failure, severe haemorrhaging, encephalopathy, and finally a liver transplant. Since I was quite off-the-planet due to the mal-distribution of so many chemicals, I can’t guarantee the chronology of those themes, nor that my story was limited to these. What I can recalled I have recorded in a book on this time.

I’ve called the book, ‘A Year of Gratitude’, though it’s still not ready for publication; the story must run a little more yet. Tears of gratitude might have been an appropriate title too. I have cried so many, none of them of pain or fear, but only of thankfulness for the grace to be born in this time, when all this has been possible. Just a couple of decades there was little hope of transplant survival beyond a year; now the likelihood is for a normal life expectancy – mine is high, for I have so much still to do.

We are so grateful beyond surgical expertise though, for the care we received everywhere we have been, and in this time we have at various times been in five different hospitals in Germany. With such heart and dedication all have done their best not only to pull through the medical crises, but make it as pleasant as humanly possible. Why would I not cry.

But beyond that, the love and concern from all my dear and near ones, from every corner of the planet. Yes, my beloved Franci has above-all, has carried my through it all, not only physically and psychologically giving her every breath for my survival, but at the same time accompanying her dear mama through her last days, juggling her time and presence between husband in Germany and mama in Italy. My champion, my heroine.

But all the rest too; of course my beloved daughters and their mama, and all my family so far across the waters in Australia, but so much more. The wishes and concern poured in to me from everywhere. If I ever doubted the power of love, never again. I believe that ultimately, the difference between my life and my death was love. Not even technical expertise could offer me that extra ingredient necessary to power me through. I felt it as an almost electric presence; the love that enveloped me. To anybody who has not been where I have been, and who raises a skeptical eye, I say that you simply don’t know. Nobody can afford to doubt it.

Life can never be the same again. How could I not wake each day with a sense of joy to be here, with the humble awareness that we a gifted life each day, with each breath, each raindrop, each sunray. We only receive these offerings, do nothing to receive them.

This sense of gratitude fills our lives, including all the work we can again do. The result is no less extraordinary than the experiences which led to it. Courses have a fresh vitality and appreciation, consultancies somehow evolve with what seems to be an aspect of grace too.

Life could not be sweeter.


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