Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Permission to Heal

I recently read a book called Walking Nature Home: A Life’s Journey, by Colorado author Susan J. Tweit. Tweit writes about receiving the terrifying diagnosis of a life-threatening auto-immune disease: the opening line of the book is “You’ve got two years, or perhaps five,” the doctor’s verdict delivered to Tweit in February of 1980, with a brusque apology.

Tweit didn’t die. Instead she learned to live in a different way. If she was going to have a flourishing life despite her disease – have a life at all, despite her disease – she was going to have to arrange her life, her home, her work, her marriage, to achieve a balance and harmony with nature. And she did.

As I read her lovely memoir, I have to admit that my chief reaction was the somewhat bizarre one of envy. Just as the little girls in the Parisian orphanage at the end of Madeline cried boo-hoo and wished that they could have their appendix out, too, I found myself wishing that I could have an auto-immune disease, too, if it would give me permission to fashion for myself a life that was comely, sane and humane, a life that prioritized meeting the needs of mind, body, and spirit.

But of course, I don’t need to have an auto-immune disease to do that, and neither do you. I need to save my life, not from the ravages of disease, but from stress, strife, turmoil, fatigue, worry, bitterness, so that I can make of my life, as Tweit made of hers, something filled with grace and beauty. And we don't need permission to start doing that now.

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