Modern medicine has been so consummately estranged from its sacred origins that it no longer sees how pain can be viewed as meaningful or even beneficial. This paradigm makes us not only intolerant of our own pain, but intolerant of those who suffer with chronic pain.
We are so fixated on curing illness and eradicating pain that we’re unable to consider people living in pain as leading intact lives. But perhaps more insidious is how this estranges us from our own pain and wretched illness. We are so driven to ‘get well’ that we rarely show any welcoming kindness to this unexpected guest in our lives.
Rumi says that to cry out in weakness is what invites healing to pour in towards it. He writes, “All medicine wants is pain to cure.”
How strong one must be to allow themselves to be seen in their weakness. And how brave the other to be unwaveringly helpless. Pain took me into the practice of showing up empty-handed and still being loveable. Pain and injury and illness ask us to consider that our lives are worthy, without justification.
True healing is an unglamorous process of living into the long lengths of pain. Forging forward in the darkness. Holding the tension between hoping to get well and the acceptance of what is happening. Tendering a devotion to the impossible task of recovery, while being willing to live with the permanence of a wound; befriending it with an earnest tenacity to meet it where it lives without pushing our agenda upon it. But here’s the paradox: you must accept what is happening while also keeping the heart pulsing towards your becoming, however slow and whispering it may be.
For all the times someone has asked you how you are, and you felt pressured to say “I am well” when well wasn’t your whole truth, I offer you this wish: that this finds you not just well, but all the things that being human asks of us. And to remind you that your being alive, in all its magnificent and complicated colours, is more than enough for love. Rather than endlessly seeking to get well, or yearning for ‘how things used to be’ or ‘may be one day again,’ we must be willing to walk with our pain. Or at least be willing to be willing to say, “This too is welcome. This too belongs.”
~ Toko-pa Turner in Belonging
[Art: Luke Sammons]