Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sometimes We Need a Story

Jumping into the bathwater
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
Medical journals educate physicians with statistical information and are not interested in stories about unexpected remissions and recovery.
Yet stories can change beliefs and beliefs affect us at the cellular level.
Jean Shinoda Bolen, Close to the Bone, chapter 7: sometimes we need a story.

Emotions are not in the head. There’s a cellular consciousness. There’s a wisdom in every cell. Every single cell has receptors on it. The emotional energy comes first, and then peptides are released all over…. Consciousness precedes matter. It’s not like a peptide creates the feeling. The feeling creates the peptide, on some level.
Candace Pert, in Close to the Bone

There is no such thing as false hope.
Michael Lerner, in Close to the Bone

Mary and I met with Evie the evening before she was to start her next go round of chemo. It was our prelude to what Evie had called the atomic bomb of chemo and the stem cell transplant.

The day before I had sent around a story I’d found about a fellow, Bob Ellal, who had undergone two stem cell transplants and been given by his doctor one chance in 20,000 of it working. Well, he’s been cancer free for more than 12 years now. And he has a nice concise list of what to do. We’ve been doing most of this, but it was good to just see it written out so plainly, and he included one point we haven’t articulated real clearly:

Find someone in your life—besides yourself—to live for. This may seem like a strange statement—isn’t it enough to want to survive? You will find that after large doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation you will sometimes be so sick that you will feel like quitting. That’s the time to remember that other people need you to survive.

I liked this particularly.
As it turned out, many of us had gotten a boost from Bob Ellal’s story, and so we were gathering to meditate already feeling some momentum of “being ready.”  Still, Evie spoke of how she'd turned inside.  She didn't know if it was hiding like retreating to a cave, but she knew it brought a piece.
It seemed to me she was giving her own words for going into her soul, her higher self.
As a closing exercise we decided that Eve would try getting in touch with an animal form or what my Taoist teacher calls “the lower higher self.”
Eve thought for a moment, saying she wasn’t sure what that animal would be. She liked the butterfly. The turtle had come up with the tumor they’d removed, but more recently she was coming across the bear as healing energy.

“Oh,” I said. “You don’t choose the animal. They come to you and take ahold.”
With that we did bows and began.

Afterwards, I asked, “Who came?” She said – the snake.
We had a good laugh over that.
I had really hoped for a mammal of some sort, something strong and furry. Or a power-bird with warrior feathers – that would be just fine.
But a snake? Eewww!

Then, I recalled Jean Shinoda Bolen’s Goddess in Everywoman, a book I had loved back in the ‘80s. It was there I first learned of women and snakes. When women come into their power they tend to have a lot of dreams about snakes:
The image of the snake is one of the major symbols that you might be drawn to. It may show up in a dream about transformation and transition.

The next day I went on a search to see what exactly Dr. Bolen said about snakes. I discovered she had written a new book, Close to the Bone: Life Threatening Illness as a Journey of the Soul.
I have ordered it from Amazon, but wanted to share some of her words today:

Whenever or however that line from health to illness is crossed, we enter the realm of soul...
We lose an innocence, we know vulnerability, we are no longer who we were before this event, and we will never be the same.

A life threatening illness calls to the soul, taps into spiritual resources, and can be an initiation into the soul realm for the patient and for anyone else who is touched by the mystery that accompanies the possibility of death.

Once we take soul seriously, a whole different premise opens up.
If we have a soul--and this is one of the innate beliefs that human beings do have--then we are spiritual beings on a human path rather than human beings who may or may not be on a spiritual path.

The journey of spiritual beings on a human path holds major questions that have to do with the big picture at each major transition fork in the road.
What did I come to do?
What did I come to learn?
Who did I come to love?

… and How long do they need me to love them?
These are good questions for all of us.
The answers will be the stories we need.
The answers will reveal how truly blessed we are.


Anonymous said...

I love your story thank you for sharing. You and Eve are amazing to me. I so enjoy reading you.

Pat Bralley said...

I'm glad you enjoy... it is so strange and amazing to me how much joy we are discovering in all this. But, perhaps I am only mislabeling love.
Thanks for taking time to share your comments.

Snake said...

The snake conveys knowledge and wisdom . . . And healing . . . Never underestimate the snake . . .


Pat Bralley said...

Yes! I wonder if the discomfort is inverse and proportional to what one is denying of their power.