By CSEE Board President Ben Boomer
The steady rhythm of my heart beating as a metronome to an ancient song, sung in a language I don’t speak, but with a meaning that would heal my spirit. I sat in darkness both physical and metaphoric as my mind would begin to struggle with understanding, only to be willed into relaxation with an intentional breath. Follow the water was a mantra my mind used to carve canyons effortless and relentless. Neither forced, nor aimless, I became accustomed to the strength of flow. Realizing the old streams and rivers no longer fed gardens I wanted to tend, I began to plant new ones along the rivers edge in a place that felt safe, in soil that felt rich, under a steady bright sky. I realize this song has been sung before, for a lifetime, for generations. These are the lessons the plants always offer, and the sky always illuminates and the ground supports and nourishes to be remembered so it is never forgotten. Over and over I am given gifts, twined into my body, woven into my being, layer upon layer, again and again interrupted by flights of unbridled joy, and humbled by sorrow deep and dark only to return to the flowing rhythm with the taste of tears as a reminder that
joy must be respected and savored.
Each time like a sprout from the ground I emerge from darkness reaching and growing to the light, absorbing the light, and churning and mixing it with all that I am. The days move past, the plants move through me, the air and the smoke move through me, the sunlight moves through me, the sounds move through me. The ceremony is finished.
This is the ‘healing’. That singular noun I had been waiting for, this will slay my pain, my suffering, and end my isolation. This will rally the universe in my favor after all my bargaining, and wishing. This is what I tell myself as pain creeps back into my existence, into my every day. My resolve weakens, my body stumbles, the pain grows and consumes. It consumes my remembering, and my joy in an ugly slow gulp. My failure is complete. I was supposed to get better, the pain was going to be gone. I was supposed to continue all my old dreams, achieve my old goals and be whole again. Confusion, despair, desperation and darkness. I give up. It is all meaningless. There is no magic, no healing power, nothing will ever make me better. So I have nothing. I lay there useless, immobile, starving, and still with agony burning white hot. Agony burning away sleep, burning away thought, and burning away all my dreams. Nothing left of myself, just an essence, just an idea, just a memory, just a seed. A seed that knows nothing but a memory of light, and a promise of life. That light would shine as I closed my eyes. That light would shine as I became still. It would shine as I drifted to sleep, and drifted to wakefulness. One day became many, and water became blood, food became muscle. The light would shine and I would grow. I would remember the song and I would grow.
The metronome beat of the song was no longer the rhythm of my heart, but the rhythm of my days. This was my ‘healing’, my active verb that I had been waiting for. My pain and my suffering will always be a part of me like burned bark on a lighting tree. My healing, like my pain is something that is a part of me, something that is what I am and what I am becoming. It was never final, never an event or miracle, but a seed that had to be nurtured and grown. Each sunrise an opportunity for me to be the one to answer my prayers. Each sunset an opportunity to hold the light inside until the dawn. Healing doesn’t always make the pain go away, but it can be the growth around the gnarled, and burned and scarred. Growth to embrace the light, not in spite of, but with and because of all the suffering. Until it’s time for another song to be sung.