On Friday of this week, is my Diagnosis Day. Two years ago, I was told, “You have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.”
I was both relieved, and at the same time intuitively knew, this was only the beginning. I had a long journey ahead of me. And yet the diagnosis was step 1. And after 10 years of searching, I finally knew what was wrong. There was nothing particularly special about that day. After a 2 hour diagnosis appointment, I went home and laid in bed the rest of the day. I’m sure it was a combination of research, of Netflix, of napping.
It was both an ordinary day, and in a very real way, my life had changed. I knew how to help myself. In the middle of winter, I received amazing clarity. I wasn’t lying for 10 years; I was right. I was in pain, I was fatigued, and I was unfortunately moved around the healthcare system, without answers. But the clarity that came to me that day was a glimmer of hope that I could trust my intuition, and that a few people must know how to listen.
At first this listening came in the form of doctors, and yet as I learned how to talk about my condition, compassion from others followed. And then there’s “knowing” from an author I will never meet. This blessing, written by John O’Donohue, felt like it was written for me. I came across this last summer, and the thought of “harvesting this slow light” put words to the journey I wanted to embark on. And now, I’m trying to listen to the wisdom in these simple, yet powerful words.
For a Friend on the Arrival of Illness
Now is the time of dark invitation
Beyond a frontier you did not expect;
Abruptly, your old life seems distant.
You barely noticed how each day opened
A path through fields never questioned,
Yet expected, deep down, to hold treasure.
Now your time on earth becomes full of threat;
Before your eyes your future shrinks.
You lived absorbed in the day-to-day,
So continuous with everything around you,
That you could forget you were separate;
Now this dark companion has come between you.
Distances have opened in your eyes.
You feel that against your will
A stranger has married your heart.
Nothing before has made you
Feel so isolated and lost.
When the reverberations of shock subside in you,
May grace come to restore you to balance.
May it shape a new space in your heart
To embrace this illness as a teacher
Who has come to open your life to new worlds.
May you find in yourself
A courageous hospitality
Toward what is difficult,
Painful, and unknown.
May you learn to use this illness
As a lantern to illuminate
The new qualities that will emerge in you.
May the fragile harvesting of this slow light
Help to release whatever has become false in you.
May you trust this light to clear a path
Through all the fog of old unease and anxiety
Until you feel arising within you a tranquility
Profound enough to call the storm to stillness.
May you find the wisdom to listen to your illness:
Ask it why it came. Why it chose your friendship.
Where it wants to take you. What it wants you to know.
What quality of space it wants to create in you.
What you need to learn to become more fully
That your presence may shine in the world.
May you keep faith with your body,
Learning to see it as a holy sanctuary
Which can bring this night-wound gradually
Toward the healing and freedom of dawn.
May you be granted the courage and vision
To work through passivity and self-pity,
To see the beauty you can harvest
From the riches of this dark invitation.
May you learn to receive it graciously,
And promise to learn swiftly
That it may leave you newborn,
Willing to dedicate your time to birth.
On Friday, I will write about what it has meant to receive an illness, to train my eye to see the slow light that is emerging daily.