Illness can bring us home. It can help us let go of old complaints. It can bring us to new understanding. That is, illness fertilizes and enriches our wisdom. It deepens our soul, if we let it. Physician Rachel Naomi Remen gives this same message about her own illness in her book, My Grandfather’s Blessings.
“I recall vividly the night before one of my own early surgeries, an 8 hour affair that would alter my body permanently. I was 27 and unmarried at the time. Late in the evening a pleasant elderly woman, a technical aide, had come to my hospital room to shave my abdomen in preparation for the procedure. As she went about this humble task with great skill, she had asked me about the day’s next surgery. Filled with resentment and self-pity and a sense of victim hood, I told her what was planned and burst into tears. She had seemed quite surprised. “How would YOU feel if they were going to do this to YOU tomorrow?” I asked her angrily. She had taken my question quite literally and thought it over. Then, patting me gently, she had said, “If I needed it to live, I would be glad for the help.” Her answer changed everything.”
No matter what your path, there are always new avenues to companion you through any illness. You may talk more truthfully with your loved ones. You may see the beauty of nature more completely. You may feel a deepening of your prayer practice. You may embrace the mystery more reverently.
In any case — ask to keep your heart open. Be willing to receive healing and hope. It is there, waiting for you.