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abundance part 2: illness and injury


One early morning in late January, I slipped down my front steps. Glistening in the early dark, they appeared to be merely wet. But it turns out, the city had become sheathed in a thin layer of ice overnight. I scrambled my way back into my warm house, heart pounding, hands throbbing. I knew I had to ice them right away. More importantly, I knew I needed to shift my internal energy. I got my favorite blanket, tea, ice packs and settled myself into a cozy nest on my couch and turned to my childhood comfort TV: the Carol Burnett Show. I needed to watch Tim Conway make Harvey Korman laugh. I needed to laugh. I stayed there until sleep overtook me. And when I woke up, I knew I needed xrays, the specter of broken wrists looming in a small corner of my mind. As I tried to get dressed, I felt weepy with frustration at my painful, inflexible wrists. Do you know how hard it is to put a bra on without bending your wrists? A dear friend braved the slippery streets to take me to urgent care. No fractures, just sprains. I spent the rest of the day giving myself as much TLC triage as possible. Then, three weeks later as I was emerging from life with wrist casts, I woke up with a cold on a Saturday morning. I spent the weekend nestled in my favorite pjs and blanket sipping tea and soup while I rested.


For me, illness and injury are not just things to overcome so as to continue functioning--that is a capitalist orientation that makes quick recovery imperative. Instead, I think of Jonah in the belly of the whale. I need to disengage from the world to turn inward. In this way, illness or injury are a portal to a deeper engagement with self. I descend into the belly of myself, seeking transcendence.


It is a relatively new idea that illness and injury are simply bad things to overcome. In fact, in each of our indigenous roots is the understanding that before illness or injury lands in the body, it had to penetrate our energetic bodies. Which is to say, our divine self had been beckoning us to address something that was off in our lives for a while but we had refused to attend to it. So our divine self took the drastic measure of throwing our physical bodies off kilter. Thus when I am ill or injured I turn here:



Sprains: anger and resistance: not wanting to move in a particular direction in life.

Wrists: movement and ease.

Colds: too much going on at once; mental confusion and disorder.

 

Do you see a pattern? And how curious to have these physical experiences during a seemingly wonderful time in my life: I had just published my first full-length collection of poetry!

 

That my physical state informs me about my well-being in a deep and broad way, fills me with gratitude. I know that what I encounter in my life is ultimately for my benefit. It also sends me on a quest. I journal and meditate, trying to see what had been veiled from me or I veiled from myself. I also dialog with the illness or injury; first expressing gratitude for what it is here to teach me, then asking for guidance on how to evolve from the experience. Often, incredibly vivid and illuminating dreams occur. Sometimes a memory will surface from the murky depths. Or an unconscious self-sabotaging belief pattern. Consistently what is unveiled is this: Trust yourself. Love yourself. You are worthy of your heart’s desires. Release fear. Trust your voice.

 

When I sit within the belly of illness or injury long enough, I plumb depths of abundance within myself I wouldn't know otherwise.  

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