Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The sun is a painter and a sculptor

"It is the unqualified result of all my experience with the sick, that second only to their need of fresh air is their need of light; that, after a close room, what hurts them most is a dark room. And that it is not only light but direct sunlight they want. I had rather have the power of carrying my patient about after the sun, according to the aspect of the rooms, if circumstances permit, than let him linger in a room when the sun is off.  People think the effect is upon the spirits only. This is by no means the case. The sun is not only a painter but a sculptor. You admit that he does the photograph. Without going into any scientific exposition we must admit that light has quite as real and tangible effects upon the human body."   (Notes on Nursing, Florence Nightingale, 1859)

I was at the coast in Wilmington (NC) during Christmas. When I drove there Christmas Eve, the sky was a strong clear blue, the air chilly. Later that evening, the temperature dropped. Rain began to fall, and into the next day. Christmas day was cloudy, and we had reports of hard rain.  Wind blew hard. For dinner, our cooks adapted their grilling plan with the sideways rain and strong wind. (The steaks were delicious!) Before I drove home, the following day, I went to Wrightsville Beach and had a walk on the sand by the ocean. The sky was grey more than blue, no rain, and the waves blended into themselves, smoothing out on the multi-colored sand. I breathed deeply.  It felt wonderful. Surfers in wet suits jumped and paddled in the grey water. When I read this sentence in Florence Nightingale's Notes on Nursing, I thought of experience as a wave itself, each memory cascading together, with the deep breaths reminding me in this moment of how wonderfully infinite they were and we are.

Healing. The basics of healing are and have been so easily forgotten. I am glad to be reminded, and so glad for the Earth, wind, sky, our family of life.

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