One thing I know is that I am so fortunate to have wise friends and mentors. I am also grateful to have been so enriched by my nurse friends! My good friend Valerie is a “retired” nurse who has been working in the non-profit world for many years now. She is an amazing human being who is the type of person that sees a need for medical care in a far off or forgotten place and is called to respond. She and I have had many conversations about the difficulty being with suffering at times in our work, or feeling like we don’t make a difference with our efforts because the need is so great. On our trips to northern India with Hands On Global, Inc. (HandsOnGlobal.org), I often find myself mentoring and coaching younger team members as they confront their own profound sadness and overwhelm with being witness to suffering and wanting to help the suffering, while at the same time observing the seemingly endless human need that is so much greater than one person or a small group can handle. It can be overwhelming to go from middle class America to the poor parts of a large city, such as New Dehli. In parts of India (and other parts of the world as well) people, including babies, seem to be almost disposable, the need for care is so great. An open-hearted person, who is willing to let the suffering in, is a courageous person. Becoming a healer requires an open heart and courage; courage to not be stopped, but to exhibit wise compassion instead. How much suffering can we hold before we suffer? Is our profound sadness the same as suffering? This is where wise and experienced friends and mentors comes in. They can illuminate the path, or at least tell us about their travels. Sometimes a good conversation and a good cry over a nice cup of tea makes all the difference.
Valerie found this poem by Christine Lore Webber and shared it with me. I’d like to share it with you because I think it is so important healers keep an open heart. How much can you hold?
Mother Wisdom Speaks
Some of you I will hollow out.
I will make you a cave.
I will carve you so deep the stars will shine in our darkness.
You will be a bowl.
You will be the cup in the rock collecting rain.
I will hollow you with knives.
I will not do this to make you clean.
I will not do this to make you pure.
You are clean already.
You are pure already.
I will do this because the world needs the hollowness of you.
I will do this for the space that you will be.
I will do this because you must be large.
People will find their way through you.
People will eat from you
And their hunger will not weaken them unto death.
A cup to catch the sacred rain.
My daughter, do not cry. Do not be afraid.
Nothing you need will be lost.
I am shaping you.
I am making you ready.
Light will flow in your hollowing.
You will be filled with light.
Your bones will shine.
The round, open center of you will be radiant.
I will call you Brilliant One.
I will call you Daughter who is Wide.
I will call you Transformed.
Be well, dear healer.