Here are two more fabulous shares for you. These arrived in my inbox this morning, coming from opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean but obviously a matched set meant to be sent along.
by Bob Leckridge
The long marks on this tree were caused by a lightning strike.
Although struck by lightning, this tree didn’t die, it survived. But it survives changed. The marks of the strike become part of the beauty and uniqueness of its bark.
Illness is like that.
Stuff happens. Bacteria are inhaled or swallowed, bones are broken, hearts are broken. Often we blame these external events or stimuli for our illnesses. We say we have an infection when our bodies develop a fever, pain, inflammation in response to bacteria or viruses. In fact we give the infection the name of the bacteria or virus – we say the patient has “E Coli”, or “TB”, or “measles”, despite the fact that most people who inhale or swallow that particular “bug” might not actually develop any fever, pain or inflammation. Thinking this way externalises the illness. It’s something that happens to us and we are the victims.
But it’s more complicated than that. The particulars of our illnesses are the results of our responses, our adaptive responses, to these events, or, more commonly in chronic illnesses, to multiple, often long distant factors/events. Not everyone with the same diagnosis will have the same symptoms, and certainly no two people with the same diagnose will narrate an identical story of their experience of this illness.
Understanding that illness emerges from within our lives changes the power balance. We reject the victim mindset and open up the possibility that this experience of illness presents us with an opportunity to learn something about who we are, what’s important to us, and how we adapt to the changes in our lives.
We are changed as a result of these responses. Kat Duff, in “The Alchemy of Illness”, puts it beautifully –
Our bodies remember it all: our births, the delights and terrors of a lifetime, the journeys of our ancestors, the very evolution of life on earth………in fact, every experience, from the sight of a field of daisies to the sudden shock of cold water, leaves a chemical footprint in the body, shimmering across the folds of the cortex like a wave across water, altering our attitudes, expectations, memories, and moods ever so slightly in a continual process of biological learning.
~from Heroes Not Zombies, http://heroesnotzombies.com/2012/06/20/changed/
Bob Leckridge is a medical doctor in Scotland. He is also a highly skilled photographer, as the photos here and on his blog posts demonstrate.
Reflection by Molly Baskette
When I was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago, the movie “2012” had just come out on DVD. Being someone who can’t look away from train wrecks—vomit on the street, B action movies advertising Armageddon, etc. – I had to watch it. Of course, it freaked me out a little. I’m surprisingly superstitious for someone who claims to be a person of faith.
Then my mind did an interesting reframe. “What if,” I said to my husband, “God gave me and a bunch of other people cancer right now so that we would live our lives to the fullest, here in these last 18 months? What if cancer is a reward and not a punishment?”
I don’t really believe in the God Who Giveth Cancer, but I do believe in the God Who Lures Us Toward the Good with Whatever Comes Our Way.
That said, the world is going to end sooner or later, at God’s hands or at our own. When I think about the end of the world, because I do – perhaps now more than ever, and more personally – I think: “Well, either I’m a) dying and going Home, b) dying and going On, c) dying and going nowhere, in which case I won’t be there to feel foolish for having believed in an afterlife, or d) surviving the catastrophe that will kill most of Creation, in which case I hope I turn out to be brave and relatively selfless and care more for my fellow creatures than I do for holing up in a bunker with lots of Dinty Moore Beef Stew.”
What were you doing last year when the end of the world was predicted, twice (unsuccessfully, it would seem)? Did it change what you’re doing today?
God of Beginnings and Endings and Beginnings Again, Help us to live every day as if it were our last, because one of these days, we’re going to be right. Amen.
~ From Still Speaking, http://is.gd/ZvuvGv
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister at First Church Somerville UCC (United Church of Christ), in Somerville, Massachusetts.