Learning from Opposites

Dear Everybody,

Now your homework: Complete these quotes.

You are only as old as …the women you feel.
– Author Unknown

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and…to have the two as close together as possible.
George Burns

Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people…only once a year.
– Victor Borge

On with the show: Two topics of interest to me are male / female issues and what we call disabilities. First a quickie on the male female thing. I love reading Joseph Campbell’s work and he pointed out that girls know when they become women because they menstruate and have a physical sign and symbol of the transformation while boys have to go through some experience or initiation, as many cultures do. They are often painful rituals which help them to make the transition from boy to man. Maybe that is part of the male problem. Feeling and knowing who we are and what we are capable of as men and to stop being boys who are controlled by the parental figures in our lives and who need to risk their lives to prove they are men.

I was also reading a medical article which shows how differently male and female brains are structured and how they respond to different events and biological changes within the body because of it. For instance more men than women die of Alzheimer’s Disease and more women develop depression than men. Another interesting fact was that starving males drew their energy from protein and females from fat. When starved, females who have more body fat than males, can convert various fat resources and survive where the male dies when it runs out of protein. Yes, we are different for many reasons and not just relationships.

So I think we all need to look at the psychological, as well as, the physical aspects of our life and nature. And remember that psyche and soma are two aspects of the unus mundus, as Jung said, or the one entity we are. So folks stop and figure out who you are and then enjoy living the life intended for you. Mind and body are two aspects of the same thing and so react to each other and can cause problems or help us to heal our lives and bodies when we are empowered and live our authentic lives.

Now my next area of exploration is to look into the words disabled, retarded and different. I walked into the hospital room of a dying teenager I knew. Tony turned and pointed out that kids his age were playing in the street and said, “Why am I different?” I responded, “Because it makes you beautiful.” Those words came from God knows where. I was about to apologize for saying them to a dying child when Tony looked at me with a sparkle in his eyes and a beautiful smile. Yes, he made a difference in his high school and taught his family a great deal about life and they helped immortalize him with fund raising efforts, in his name, for other children with cystic fibrosis.

I also recall a veterinarian, who the night before her mastectomy, couldn’t fall asleep picturing her body as deformed and never being normal again. She said, “Around four in the morning I suddenly thought of all the animals I operate on. I amputate legs, jaws and they wake up and lick their owner’s faces. They know they are here to love and be loved and teach us a few things.” She went on to say she had no trouble falling asleep at that moment. Yes, animals are complete and man is not. So learn to be thankful for what you can learn from your difficulties and the blessing that comes with it will become apparent. I didn’t say it was easy to do I am just sharing what I have learned from empowered survivors.

Are we disabled or enabled? Many people I know with cerebral palsy, loss of limbs, blind and more write autobiographies entitled Strong At The Broken Places and The Bird With the Broken Wing. They are not handicapped. They are our teachers. Just think of Helen Keller, blind and deaf from age 4, and able to graduate from college with honors. She never saw her problems as punishment by God but more like God disciplining her so her curses could become a blessing.

Who is retarded? Two boys with Down Syndrome taught me a lot. After operating on a boy I was making rounds, that evening, and when I entered his room he grabbed his blanket, pulled it up to his chin, and said, “If you want to see my operation you have to pay me.” I responded, “I’m your surgeon. I don’t have to pay.”  “Oh, okay” and he lowered the blanket. The next morning, on rounds, I noticed a pile of dollar bills on his bedside stand. The nurses and interns found it easier to pay then fight with him. He is the only patient I ever had who went home with more money than he came with. So who is retarded?

Another young man with Down Syndrome I knew told me he moved to a new town and people had varying reactions to him. John said, “If you cannot get your love flow going, cannot communicate and you are not aware who you are, I call that retarded. Some people are only a little bit retarded. Then I can help them, because they get curious about me. They get into communication with me and their love flow gets going. Then it works for them if they like. They get more aware.”

Last but not least in my meditation the other day the message became clear to me. Helen Keller always said, “If you face the sunshine you do not see the shadows.” I was walking towards the sun, in my meditation, and feeling good about not seeing the shadows which exist in my life too. I felt bad for all the people walking towards me, with the sun at their back, seeing only shadows and darkness before them. Then I realized that I could be a mirror for them and reflect the light and love of our Creator and make their path through life a little easier and brighter. So my message to you all is to be a mirror of our Creator’s love for all those who are hurting. And since we are all wounded I am really saying you don’t have to look far to find someone. It is the next person you meet whom you can help by doing what they need, now. So go out and make a difference in someone’s life. And thank you to all who stop me while I am out shopping and say  how much my words have helped them.

Sermon over and I feel better. Now to test your wisdom:

#1 Be careful about reading health books…..
#2 By all means marry if you get a good wife you’ll…..; if you get a bad wife you’ll…..
#3  I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a……..

Bernie Siegel, MD

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back.

Money can’t solve every problem but it sure keeps you in touch with your children.