Illness…Finding Your Way in The Dark

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I’ve studied and worked in many areas of alternative medicine over the past 25 years.  Between my daughters’ terrible illnesses and that of others I’ve striven to heal, I expect I’ve seen nearly as much sickness and suffering as most physicians.  In the process, I’ve come to know that illness wears a thousand masks and often provides us with a unique and rarefied opportunity for learning – one we’d choose to forego, of course, if given the chance – but, nonetheless, a catalyst for breathtaking expansion.

Life breaks us all, Hemingway said, some of us get stronger at the broken places. Those who survive the test of catastrophic illness, are compensated with the strength to handle all else that life will ever toss at them.  Gifted, too, by the knowledge that no matter how much the illness has taken from them, they are not less than they were before, but infinitely more.  Not that any of us would opt for such a learning experience given the chance not to.  As Mother Teresa said, when asked about the notion that God never gives us more than we can handle, “I just wish He didn’t have so much confidence in me.” And as Saint Teresa said after having been dumped in a stream while on a mission of mercy, “If this is the way you treat your friends, God, it’s no wonder you have so few!”

Adding Insult to Injury

Unfortunately, over the past few years, a growing number of sick people have come to me burdened with an additional sorrow… the New Age-y concept that says all illness is psychically self-inflicted and can be banished by adopting the proper attitude.  The reality, as any healer or doctor who’s ever laid hands on a body can attest, is far more complex than such a simplistic explanation.  The concept “just think it away” really frosts my petunias because it lays a heavy burden on the sick, that of being judged as well as being ill.

This little prayer/poem grew out of respect and admiration for those who suffer and struggle toward recovery, often against staggering odds.  I offer it in hopes that it may give heart to someone, somewhere, who has been so harshly and unfairly burdened.

Prayer for the Sick

by

Cathy Cash Spellman

What is this New Age nonsense

That’s been visited on the sick?

The sanctimonious ones who ask you

Why you’re doing this to yourself,

Or tell you

You attracted your illness, so

Why don’t you just think it away?

So first you’re ill

And then you’re judged.

How deadly for the soul

Never mind the body.

Well let me tell you, dear sick friend,

It isn’t nearly that simple.

As a healer, I’ve laid my hands

On a thousand bodies troubled

By a thousand ills

And there are more reasons for sickness

Than the Gnome of Zurich could count

On a good day.

 

Immune systems brought low by

Genetic weakness,

Sorrow,

Poor nutrition,

Psychic injury,

Unrequited love,

Bacteria and virus in an unclean world

Psychic wounds so deep they kill

Heartache too great to bear

Poverty,

Poisoned water,

Irradiated foods,

Altered veggies,

And whatever the ancestral gene pool

Coughed up on a given day.

So hear me out

Before you take to heart

The well (or ill) meaning friend

Who adds to your burden of suffering

By laying gratuitous guilt

On your already too full plate.

Here’s how it really goes:

Life tries us all

Some more fiercely than others

Illness is one of those trials

And often, it’s an opportunity disguised

To reevaluate life

To reconnect with love

To be braver than you ever thought possible

To fight like hell for what you need

To learn who you are in the clinches

To find out who your friends are

To learn that triumph doesn’t always mean winning

To believe in miracles.

To change the future.

So do your best with it, friend

And give yourself a break

And when they ask you

Why you’re doing this

To yourself

Tell them it’s a private matter

Between you and God.

 

© Cathy Cash Spellman/The Wild Harp & Co. Inc 2010

Posted on December 4th 2010 in Alternative Healing, Complimentary medicine, Family, Medicine

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