I don’t know about you, but the one thing you won’t find me enjoying this time of year is a corn maze. But alas, I find myself deep in farm country in the Midwest and every pumpkin patch from here to Nebraska has a corn maze. And they love getting people into them at night and scaring the you know what out of them. I don’t enjoy fear, I don’t enjoy getting lost and I don’t enjoy corn mazes. Okay, I did finally concede to a small one in the daylight and almost hyperventilated by the time we got out. Side note: they also make me sneeze like crazy.
The chronic illness journey can feel much like a maze at times. Suffocating, dead ends, creepy sounds lurking around every corner….and it feels like you never get anywhere.
Let’s paint a better mental picture than being stuck in a maze. How about exchanging the creepiness and crappiness of a maze for the mental picture of a labyrinth.
What’s a labyrinth you might say? Isn’t that a mythology or Minotaur thing? Well, yes. But into the 13th century it was used in the European Christian Church as a symbol of a spiritual journey. There are no dead ends in a labyrinth. It is one winding pathway in and one winding pathway out. It symbolizes a journey to death and then at the center the journey out becomes one of raising from the dead as Jesus did on the third day.
Let’s consider our journey through chronic illness as releasing death and accepting life. I know some of you understand well the idea that we are literally fighting for our lives. But instead of seeing it as a bloodbath, look at it like steps toward life. We have to leave death behind, not just physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. None of us chose death, but some of us were living in a manner that didn’t choose life.
I was at least. I was working too hard. I was too busy. I was overloaded. I wasn’t listening to my body. I wasn’t feeding my spirit. I wasn’t choosing life as much as I should have. I know I didn’t cause this illness to sweep through my household. I have long since released that guilt and pressure. But did I contribute to the demise of my physical state? Did I weaken my emotional and spiritual self by not meeting my needs and resting?
Yes, yes and yes. The best thing I ever did for myself when I was deeply sick, was to begin to imagine healing. I began to picture life in true color of living again. I visualized going up steps every day toward completion. Had I understood a labyrinth, I would have mentally or physically walked one, so I could leave death behind and walk toward life.
Sometimes, we have to actually physically act out what we want to achieve. Olympic athletes visualize a successful race or event. We know that speaking positive things helps us actually be and act more positive.
So, speak it out loud. Walk it out in the backyard. It is therapeutic. It helps the mind escape the ruts of defeatism. It helps the body to hear there will be an end to the hurting. It helps the emotions to say we are walking out of darkness into the light. We are moving toward life.
It is not immediate. It is not flipping a switch. It is not magic. It is a minute by minute, day by day process moving in the right direction. Don’t say 2 steps forward and one back. Don’t EVER say 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. Don’t take that stance mentally. It is not a maze, remember. It has its ups and downs. It has its winding roads. But it has a beginning and an end.
Walk to the light.
Blessings and healing,
Janice Fairbairn (The Lyme Evangelist)
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