Tag Archives: journey

Panacea

via Daily Prompt: Panacea

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Photo from – unusedwords.com

Many years ago I knew someone who was working hard to get a hospice in the city of Perth. They and others achieved that aim, and now there are several facilities offering hospice care around the metro. Hospice care is for when there is nothing more that can be done for an ill person. It is holistic in that it covers more than just patient care and medication. It is all about reaching out to the family of the dying person (so that children are included and so that pets can also be included). And in regard to the person dying it offers spiritual guidance (which can be independent of a religious affiliation); social worker help; volunteers to sit with the person, allowing family to take time out; pain management, and general care.

I’ve had cause to visit people in hospice over the years. It is hard to accept death, but even more so for those who are family and close friends. Often they desire a miracle, a cure, something, a magic pill. I guess we’d all like a panacea that offers a comfortable exit.

But in my experience there is an alarming avoidance of pain to the point that death is sanitised. Now I’m not wedded to any view of assisted dying (euthanasia) or opposed to it in principle, but assisted dying is an avoidance of pain, perhaps a fear of pain. A common statement I hear often is “I’m not afraid of dying, but …. I don’t want to end in pain.” But who does?

I need to tread carefully here, but there is something about how pain is part of our journey as humans. This life is not a constant pleasure ride. Yet we desire to be rid of it, to avoid it, to never have pain. I’m struck by people who live with all sorts of pain, Maximillian Kolbe the Polish priest who gave his life in place of a young Jewish husband and father that this man might have life. Martin Luther King Jnr. who knew that death and discomfort was a real risk; the many people I have been privileged to journey with through terminal ilness and dying. Pain cannot be romanticised, nor should it be glorified, but yet it must be faced. Elisabeth Kubler Ross in her groundbreaking work of 1969, wrote passionately about dying and grieving.

Two things she has said:

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. these persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings.”

Hospice is no panacea, it simply manages pain, among other aspects of life and death. Somehow I believe that we shouldn’t rush to end pain, not so that we can build character or grow, but so that we can face ourselves, our body, and all that goes with pain and death. And maybe we’ll overcome our fear of pain if we face up to it, and take a different route. In some ways, I’d like to see my carvings, my beautiful scars and know them. So don’t search for a panacea for me, just sit with me when the time comes, and rejoice in the beauty of the carvings of my life.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under life, Philosophy/Theology, Spirituality

The Journey

I’ve been pondering this quote for some time.

“To take shape a journey must have fixed bearings, as a basket has ribs and a book its themes. The clearest way to understand … our journey … is to look at a single woven basket’s basic design … First, two splits or reeds are centered, like the cardinal points of a compass. Then, two more splits of equal size and length are added. These are the ribs of teh basket. Weaving begins at the center … over … under … over … under … until it is finished. From the simplest basket to the most complex … this principle is the same. The ribs must be centered and held in balance. In a sense, they are the fixed bearings that guide the rythm of weaving.” (from: Marilou Awiakta Seiu, ‘Seeking the Corn Mothers Wisdom”)

And therefore, the bearings that guide our journey. In short, we need to have a guiding principle, we need a frame, a community, a place in the world. And we need to be held by that community, held by those principles. When we have these things in our lives, when we are held, when we are centered,  we weave a journey that is rich, under, over, under, over, until we are finished.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under life, Philosophy/Theology

Circle

Circle

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Circles are in every aspect of life, from pratical wheels, to notions of the family circle, to schemas of life itself, the unbroken circle of love is one of those. The labyrinth is, for me, a special type of circle (and although not all labyrinths are circles, most are), it is a place to be still while yet moving, to be meditative, mindful, centered. I can be lost in a labyrinth without losing my way, and I leave things behind in the center if I want to or need to.

The labyrinth is also an ancient circle, an ancient wisdom (back to the Minoan civilization, and across other cultures on every continent) which doesn’t so much speak to me directly, but as through patient ferment, through the rhythm of our shared path. And it is a circle of life in that it breathes life through that rhythm, the movement is crucial, and so is stopping and pausing at the turns, and waiting in the center.

Sometimes I am on this journey alone, sometimes I encounter others along the way.

This circle is a friend, a real friend who holds a space for me and yet challenges too.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under Spirituality