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Sacred Illness: A Tough Gig


“A sacred illness is one that educates us and alters us from the inside out, provides experiences and therefore knowledge that we could not possibly achieve in any other way.”
~ Deena Metzger

WARNING: Before Reading

If you are:

  • a sleep-deprived mother/woman (some fathers/men too),
  • or have been nursing (as in Florence Nightingale the nurse) sick kids/adults,
  • nursing babies (as in ‘at breast’ – cheers to the men who take the night feeds with bottles of formula or breast milk!),
  • a father/mother/family of a child or children diagnosed with autism,
  • living with a chronic illness (yours or a loved one), and/or
  • all of the above

…you may want to set this newsletter aside and read at a time when the lines are not blurred from sleep deprivation and when you maybe have a nanosecond to entertain a different kind of thought about illness.

During my own personal experience at the time of breastfeeding and post partum depression, it felt like there was absolutely NOTHING sacred or inspiring or benevolent about the experience. Who knew that as the years rolled by, I actually was transformed by the experience of having kids and being a mother and a parent? As Deena Metzger points out, my early mothering experiences gave “knowledge that I could not possibly achieve in any other way.” Mothering leaves no room for lying to yourself about what a great person you are! You are stripped bare, to the bones, at the core.

Every belief questioned, every opinion about childrearing squashed, and any sense of what all the sleeplessness, pain, and suffering of both the child and the parent might mean—nothing at the time fully revealed. Gives new meaning to a ‘leap of faith,’ doesn’t it? We don’t know how the story of our mothering experience will end for our kids or for us; we just know that, as Polly Berrien Berends says in her book, Whole Child/Whole Parent:

“Do what you have to do until you know what you need to know. … As we do whatever seems necessary to cope with and cure our difficulties, the important thing is to remain concerned with the possibility of transcending them and to focus on the lasting, the essential, the spiritual in life—by keeping sight of it, addressing ourselves to it, and expressing it.”

You don’t need to be reminded that this is a tough gig. Phone calls this past week from moms who are trying to help their kids heal with all the sickness going around are continual reminders for me of just how hard this is. We need each other.

I was fortunate to have a husband, family, friends, and professionals who helped…community. Seems to me, we need an even larger community these days.

Every child is special, but my sense is that, with the world being in the upheaval that it is, there are children being born who are here to help make this world a better place. We are here to nurture, support, help heal, and be great encouragers of these kids…so ‘normal’ and yet so significantly in tune to what the world needs at this moment in history…a transformation of epic proportions if we as a species are to continue life on planet Earth.

And we thought we as parents had a tough gig? Consider what our children are inheriting. Makes me pause to consider that, in the Christian tradition. we are soon starting advent… “…and a little child shall lead them.” The birth of a baby all those centuries ago changed the world in ways we could not have imagined. And today? So too the birth of our own children and grandchildren are being born into a world that is changing at lightning speed.

And in the news…a young boy of 10 years, Nathan Gray from Nova Scotia, who spends his evenings looking for supernovas…and finds one! This young man is so ‘normal’ and so extraordinary. If the story is new to you, please have a read. The interview is SO refreshing.

The extraordinary? Finding a supernova.

The ordinary?

Q: So Nathan, what do you want to be when you grow-up, an astronaut? An astronomer?
A: I want to own my own store. I am going to own a toy store.

Babies and kids are bound to get sick. It’s how they develop and grow, both their minds and immune systems. We have to remember that they are not the sickness…nor are we. We get sick too. There is a greater purpose. There is love holding us up and bearing us up through sickness and through health. We are love incarnate.

We need each other to remember and remind us that there is, in all of this upheaval, love. And we have homeopathy as a healing modality…medicine for the 21st century!

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