Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home
Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home begins at the grave of Katagiri Roshi, Natalie’s Zen teacher, in Japan. Twenty years after Katagiri’s death and Natalie’s return to New Mexico, she is permanently settled in Santa Fe with her partner, Yukwan. Except that, as Buddhism teaches us, nothing is permanent. Natalie learns that she has CLL, a potentially fatal form of blood cancer.
For two years, Natalie dances with her cancer–visiting doctor after doctor, attempting treatment after treatment. Nothing helps; in fact, one of the treatments only feeds the cancer and encourages its growth. Then Natalie’s partner, Yukwan discovers that she, too, has cancer–breast cancer–as well as an off-the-charts oncotype score that requires her to have surgery immediately. The cancer twins, as Natalie calls herself and Yukwan, now must each navigate her own illness, carve out her own cancer territory. Each can provide only limited emotional and physical energy for the other. And, somehow, they both need to find a way to stay together, to stay in love–and to heal.
As the title expresses, Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home is so much more than a cancer memoir. Through a direct and grounded narrative, Natalie illuminates a path through illness- that we need to be in love with the lives we have, to embrace the dark and the light in our lives. For Natalie, writing and painting represent the light, and her cancer takes her deeper into her art practices. Balanced with a Zen practice that helps to her face death, this book is a moving meditation on living life in full bloom.