Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Can Human Care Make Men Good?

A few nights ago while waiting for an order I met a cardiologist who is reading classics he's never read. He told me he is reading The Three Musketeers for the first time, and loves it! He was a chemistry major, he said, and never read these "classics" while in school. The Count of Monte Cristo, an 1846 European bestseller by Alexandre Dumas, this cardiologist said, is still one of the greatest books ever written. I've never read The Three Musketeers - though I feel I've lived variations of it over and over!

It was fun to exchange with someone who liked circling back to old "art" as he also wades in "new science" and fast-paced thrillers. He writes a lot - about science, medicine, lingers, savors Robert Frost, and, apparently, martinis.

I thought later about "classics." What we call classics in any aspect of our lives today: cars, clothes, familiar, standard, traditional, exceptional. The precision of thought required to know a pattern well enough to recognize its validity and legitimacy within the evolution of society and its own field and function, and then within our own individual path of growth. This is not necessarily the same as a "specialty, or an 'expert." This cardiologist was, apparently, an "expert" in his field, fully functional in the body of knowledge his own specialty seeks and uses.

Recently I said to a friend, after thanking her for helping me with some computer tasks,I feel I know a little about a lot of things, a lot about a few things. My quest in life certainly has been, and is, to know myself as thoroughly as possible. As a human being. This quest took me through the tangle of depression, because those were the woods of dispiritedness that I had to make my way through before I could "see the light." What is the light? The energy of love, of thought, of caring comes to light as a mind opens itself to change, and this energy in its infinite variations is one of the most beautiful sensations I can imagine.

Meeting a high school friend for dinner over the weekend brought up more memories of the "way we were." He had read my book during his beach vacation, and we laughed over his choice of "light reading." You projected such calm, such assurance, he said, and I remember that you laughed a lot! I did, I said! I was calm! Now I understand more clearly what I sensed! Our conversation prompted me to clarify again the many nuances and differences in being aware, conscious, knowing, and doing (infinite levels of expression). It takes time for the currents of thought energy to make themselves known to a growing mind while the heart beats, patiently. That's one reason we created Time, I think. It was such fun visiting with my old friend and sharing our life tales of the moment. In the last several months I've heard from several old friends - not just prompted by Dad's death in February, or by FBook. I'm glad for these cycles of life-sharing. Every moment, clearing the cache, refreshing my screen.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

History, Hospice, Compassion, Change

I have been thinking a lot about hospice care. According toone history, the word "hospice" comes from the Latin word, hospes: to host a guest or stranger. The history of hospice, of medicine, of care for the sick and dying is a fascinating one. The founder of the modern hospice movement is said to be Dame Cicely Saunders, in 1967. She was inspired by a patient. In 1969, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross published "On Death and Dying," which became a bestseller. She is well known for many things, including the way she was treated by vandals who burned her home. (Those who have gone against the common collective mode of thought have often been made to leave by fire torching their homes. Where there's smoke, there's fire!)..

It’s interesting to read about how tribes of us in ancient times responded to those who were ill and dying. Since death of one so affected the life of a group, the group responded. One supported the other – this was the nature of “community.” Roles developed, as did superstitions, so some were left to die alone and some were thought to have healing powers (“medicine” men or women). As medicine and hospitals developed, before we developed “germ theory,” many people died as diseases spread within hospitals. Families often preferred to keep their loved ones at home, because they feared they would not leave the “house of death.” I never thought about this history before, I suppose because I haven’t had reason to – i.e., the reasons that have been there, in our history, and made more visible with our current disease care and health care reform conditions, never got my attention. Things get our attention when we recognize how they affect us personally. I’m drawn to knowing more about compassion, how we have lived it, those who have initiated acts and movements (such as hospice) which were (and are) counter to the conditions that were growing in a physical way which wasn’t keeping pace with the Ethical Values that steer us as thinking energy beings. When I feel the tug of attention to something or someone, I pay attention in a different way now. I’m more open to knowing this is an “energy relationship,” because I am an energy being. Energy always moves and changes, and my mind, as an energy field, seeks to know itself in the love or the fear that is comfortable, inviting. Compassion compels me now, more than ever before in my life.

I think about hospice now and, as one web site states, hospice now is not so much a place but a philosophy. The purpose remains the same – “for them to find rest, to be cared for and to gather courage to face the remaining days of their journey together.” I can apply this to all of life! There is no agenda except compassion, human to human. This is why NDP, and studying who we are as energy beings, is so profound to me. Our history as human beings does not begin with our physical acts, our warfare, our beliefs, our life and death. Our history begins as energy creating.

When I review my experiences, I remember the patience change requires, the grace that comes with patience, the strength and courage that are called upon. As I live and learn, I’m beginning to recognize how each reflection of each experience, individual and communal, reveals our acceptance or fear of knowing ourselves as energy beings. Years ago I remember asking Dad if he was afraid of dying. He smiled, looked surprised, and also pained, No! he said. Not at all. I remember the look on his face. His faith was strong, his sense of life and change in keeping with his love. I think about all we do to show ourselves that we must learn to honor life, cherish life and those we love – including the Earth from which we are made.

Part of my growing up has been the acceptance of change as real, as an energy force always in motion. (You can’t push the river!). Love cradles, supports, honors, cherishes, communicates, celebrates. Life and death are one. One thing I remember from our latest Spiritual Philosophy event which has meant a lot to me is, if we don’t want to see ourselves as spirit energy, we will reject Ethical Values.

Energy fields-
The smiles, vague light,
The energy motion makes and takes.

Before he died Dad smiled and said, I’ve been talking to God about it. Honoring life as death. He tried so hard to think, physically, then, but the chemistry, the energy wasn’t there, could not gather enough together.

Cotton bolls, corn belt, tobacco dirt, leaves, dark juice. Each bone, each tooth, each sparkle of glitter has its layers, the growth it shows, the cells remember, the mind floats. Sweet dreams of days blend into nights, alive.

As I listen to all of the dialogue about health care reform, I'm reminded of the courage needed to challenge "what is," how we are called upon to take all change personally, as energy beings. The relationships of life, of institutions and realities we create, are all our responsibility. Habits and institutions are not our creators, we are! Thank you, all pioneers whose guiding light is the Ethical Values of our internal (Intelligent) design.