Monday, February 21, 2011

A Blessing for a Friend on the Arrival of Illness

by John O'Donohue

Now is the time of dark invitation
Beyond a frontier that you did not expect;
Abruptly, your old life seems distant.

You barely noticed how each day opened
A path through fields never questioned,
Yet expected deep down to hold treasure.
Now your time on earth becomes full of threat;
Before your eyes your future shrinks.

You lived absorbed in the day to day,
So continuous with everything around you,
That you could forget you were separate;

Now this dark companion has come between you,
Distances have opened in your eyes,
You feel that against your will
A stranger has married your heart.

Nothing before has made you
Feel so isolated and lost.

When the reverberations of shock subside in you,
May grace come to restore you to balance.
May it shape a new space in your heart
To embrace this illness as a teacher
Who has come to open your life to new worlds.

May you find in yourself
A courageous hospitality
Towards what is difficult,
Painful and unknown.

May you use this illness
As a lantern to illuminate
The new qualities that will emerge in you.

May the fragile harvesting of this slow light
Help you to release whatever has become false in you.
May you trust this light to clear a path
Through all the fog of old unease and anxiety
Until you feel arising within you a tranquility
Profound enough to call the storm to stillness.

May you find the wisdom to listen to your illness:
Ask it why it came? Why it chose your friendship?
Where it wants to take you? What it wants you to know?
What quality of space it wants to create in you?
What you need to learn to become more fully yourself
That your presence may shine in the world.

May you keep faith with your body,
Learning to see it as a holy sanctuary
Which can bring this night-wound gradually
Towards the healing and freedom of dawn.

May you be granted the courage and vision
To work through passivity and self-pity,
To see the beauty you can harvest
From the riches of this dark invitation.

May you learn to receive it graciously,
And promise to learn swiftly
That it may leave you newborn,
Willing to dedicate your time to birth.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I've been asked to write a paragraph about living with CFS.

My life with CFS was kicked off with a harrowing 3 months of pneumonia. I tried to pretend it wasn't happening by continuing pre-med classes, and dance, only to find myself in bed and in bone cracking pain at every minute I wasn't in lab or rehearsal. Slowly, piece by piece I watched the things that made my life mine fall away. Instead, it became doctors that didn't believe me, living back at home and wishing my parents a good time when they went out dancing at age 22. I broke down in anger and tears weekly, trying to cry out the unfairness. That was 16 years ago. CFS and I have a different relationship now. I realize it has sent my life down a very unusual path, one with unrelentless suffering, but also one that gives a person a lot of time to think and watch how people live. This horrific disease has given me the opportunity to really put together how and who I want to be, and that, oddly enough, has been precious.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What do you do when you are too sick to do anything.

I have had CFS for 16 years and more than anything, I think it is a challenge of endurance. I have taken up full time employment in being happy. I ask myself throughout the day, what will make me feel even a wee bit better? and that's what I do. I have a million hobbies that come and go. It's different for everyone, what brings you joy, but I do feel it is essential. It takes the spirit of a warrior to carry on under such circumstances. 
a bit of writing.
a work in progress of course...

I am in fierce pursuit of joy.
I write.
I paint.
I play guitar
and then I don't for months and months.
Sometimes it just looks too heavy over there
propping itself up against the wall.

I share my story
I believe that purpose can be made of all of this suffering.
I photograph my chickens as each finds her way to bed at sunset.
They make me laugh.
They know how important it is
to remember that life is not so serious.

Somedays, it's still hard.
Of course it is.

Other days, I plant a fresh crop of arugula
curl up in a sleeping bag 

on the backyard bench
and see the water colored sky
over the puddles on the nasturtium
and know that rarely have I been better.