Sentences to Ponder

By Matthew Burpee via flickr
By Matthew Burpee via flickr

From Rachel Naomi Remen [emphasis mine]:

Over the past 55 years many physicians have failed to cure me, but many have helped me to heal. Healing is a potential in all relationships and at all times. Our power to heal is far less limited than our power to cure. Healing is not a relationship between an expert and a problem … it is a relationship between human beings. In the presence of another whole person, no one needs to feel ashamed of their present pain or weakness and be separated from others by it. No one needs to feel alone and small.

To help others heal we need to bring our own wholeness with us into our examining rooms: our strengths, our courage, our caring, our vulnerability, even at times our anger and our fears. We may need to become more than we have been trained to be. Our training may have caused us to focus so narrowly on our professional skills that we have sold both ourselves and our patients short. Perhaps our power to make a difference in the lives of others is far greater than the sum of our techniques and expertise. Perhaps we can tend the will to live in others with just our bare hands.

Everyone alive has suffered. The wisdom gained from our own experiences of woundedness and healing can empower us to help others. It may help us to recognize the beginnings of strength in a present vulnerability and enable us to better accompany others as they discover ways to heal. It can enable us to trust the process of healing, not as an idea but as a lived experience. It can help us be less afraid.

According to Jung, wounded people are healed by other wounded people. Other wounded people understand that what is needed for the healing of suffering is compassion and companionship, not expertise. Many times my expertise has been far less critical to the eventual outcome for my patient than my presence and my remembering the hidden capacity for wholeness in myself and everyone else…even under extraordinary circumstances. I am humbled by how often what helps a patient find themselves and their strength in hard times and begin the direction of a new life has nothing to do with my hard won medical knowledge. I have often made a difference because of something I learned about life in my garden, or from my Russian grandmother, or even from my own dark times.

Remembering the power of our own humanity and the power of the humanity of our patients opens doors of possibility.