Today in my Philosophers Notes, I was asked to answer the question, “What lights me up? What is my passion?” It was easy for me to answer writing because I have been doing it all my life. It is my way of expressing myself and understanding the world around me. I also have to say that what lights me up is being able to sit with a friend, hear her pain, and respond with love. This morning I was with a friend who is suffering from adrenal exhaustion. We talked about how hard it is to take care of ourselves when we have a family. It is easy for us to always put their needs above our own, leading to more exhaustion.
I know how difficult it is to travel a journey toward wholeness after an illness. I spent 150 days in the hospital fifteen years ago due to a Strep A infection. I was forced to take care of myself in order to get out of the hospital. My journey did become more complicated when I returned home because now my husband was taking care of three little girls and his wife! There were many days I felt guilty taking time for myself to nap or rest. It is much more difficult to take care of yourself when there are others whose needs may feel more pressing.
As I shared part of my own healing journey with my friend, I realized how powerful it was to say, “I have been there, and although it isn’t easy, you will get through this.” It was as if little pieces of light feel across her face shining some hope into her worn out spirit. Sitting with her today reminded me of the story below.
The Story of the Ashes
“Jacob, where do you find the strength to carry on in life?
“Life is often heavy only because we attempt to carry it,” said Jacob. “But I do find strength in the ashes.”
“In the ashes?” asked Mr. Gold.
“Yes,” said Jacob with a confirmation that seemed to travel a great distance.
“You see, Mr. Gold, each of us is alone. Each of us is in the great darkness of our ignorance. And each of us is on a journey. In the process of our journey, we must bend to build a fire for light and warmth and food. But when our fingers tear at the ground, hoping to find the coals of another’s fire, what we often find are the ashes. And in these ashes, which will not give us light or warmth, there may be sadness, but there is also testimony. Because the ashes tell us that somebody else has been in the night, somebody else has bent to build a fire, and somebody else has carried on. And sometimes, that can be enough.”
Noah ben Shea
I have my own story to tell. I think that my healing journey may help others find their way through difficult situations. Maybe my words will be the coals someone bends to find in the midst of their pain. It is time to write so that others can hold the pages in their hands, and be warmed by the hope that they too can carry on. I look forward to bringing you excerpts from my book as I begin to tell my story of finding God in the midst of pain, and healing even though a chronic condition remains.