The Gifts Of Illness

T H E    G I F T S    O F    I L L N E S S

Illness is a teacher like no other. Nothing else matters when you are in the space between life and death, recovery and convalescence. Illness is the gift that helps you to remember what is truly important. It forces you to pray when you might not pray. It forces you to nourish yourself when you might not nourish yourself. It forces you to make medicine and ask permission and chant and meditate and move slow and be present to the pain that is sometimes being alive. Illness brings you home to yourself if you let it. Apologize to no one for being sick, for being tired. Apologize to no one for taking care of yourself.

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Recently I got very very sick. I had a kidney infection. I was scared and I thought I might die. It was a mythical experience, an initiation, and I was blessed to be surrounded by some of my closest friends and teachers rather than alone in the wild, as I so often am. And I learned so much. And I am so grateful. And I am safe now, better now, mostly. Getting sick reveals us to ourselves and if we dive right in and we allow it to, getting sick can actually mean getting well. And then the real work begins.

Right now our world needs our prayers. Right now, we feel the pain of the Earth. And recently, quite literally, I felt the pain of the Earth. I see my own recent illness through many lenses. Through the lens of my ancestors, through the lens of my recent travels, through the lens of past relationships, through the lens of capitalism and patriarchy. But most of all, I see my personal experience as parallel to the global conversation around the Sacredness Of Water, and the urgent need to protect the Lands through which our most essential and life giving relation flows. A kidney infection is no joke. A pipeline is no joke. Our bodies are the Earth. That is not a metaphor.

Today, I see that so much magic and healing and transformation is possible, just laying still and quiet and alone in a trailer in the desert, remaining curious about the worlds that exist within. Inside each of us there live many landscapes, entire ecosystems waiting to be known, maps of worlds we can choose to become loving stewards and fierce protectors of. The work that can be done through internal ceremony + deeply felt prayer has a far reaching magic. Our ancestors knew this--that to heal the world within is to heal the world without. Go deep, get quiet, and watch your world bloom wildly. Your medicine is needed, your prayer is needed. Start where you are, and begin by being a truly kind caretaker of the worlds that live within you.

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