Goshen News, Goshen, IN

March 17, 2013

SHADES OF GREEN: Dealing with ailment opens writer’s eyes to miracles


— A month ago I caught Bell’s Palsy. It’s an ailment that makes a side of your face go paralyzed. So for me I couldn’t close my eye so I had to tape it shut at night. My mouth couldn’t cup my morning caffeine, so I had to drink coffee through a straw!

What I think is amazing about this experience is that Bell’s Palsy is still considered a phenomenon! I am part of an unknown mystery of life!! Doctors have hypothesizes but they still aren’t sure what it is — they only know what it isn’t!

On this amazing earth of ours we can look at things as either a curse or a blessing. I’m taking this “ailment” as a blessing. I’ve been trying to see things through the eyes of Rachel Carson, author of “Silent Spring,” who said “For most of us, knowledge of our world comes largely through sight, yet we look about with such unseeing eyes that we are partially blind. One way to open your eyes to unnoticed beauty is to ask yourself, ‘What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?’”

So this made me ask, “What if I couldn’t use my lip any more? What if my eye didn’t close on its own? What if this paralysis would stay with me for the rest of my life? Would I still be thankful?”

After this experience I loudly now say, “Yes!” This “ailment” has made me ask lots of questions about life and it’s miracles.

The simple overlooked things like blinking.

I’ve been taking yoga since this came upon me, which has made me focus on breathing and listening.

One day my instructor said that all things that go in you become you, which includes food, of course. I asked myself, “Do I want to become a Cheeto? Or do I want to become an organic carrot?”

But it also includes the things we see, hear, feel — things we ingest, literally and figuratively, become us.

What are some simple things that I’ve been observing?

The miracle of blooming crocus!

The gift of photosynthesis and chlorophyll!

The deliciousness of kale!

The marvel of making maple syrup from the sap that flows through a tree!

The wonder of how juncos happily spend their winter here — without complaint!

How black squirrels always seem like they are dancing and sparking my dog.

Unpretentious signs of respect like a smile from my neighbors and the opportunity to provide them happiness.

Giving thanks for all things, and accepting somethings like Bell’s Palsy which woke me up to identify many hopeful things.

Unassuming things, including the concept of clean water coming from my tap.

The right to clean air in my community — thanks to a commitment of many.

The greatness of having a farmers market that offers good, local, without preservative food

The importance of all the diversity that is interconnected in this world — even within our bodies that we take for granted every, every day — like moisture on the eyeball!

The ability to hold civil conversations and discussions about what is right and wrong (for me to emphasize the environment that gives us so much).

To be able to “Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable. Speak out in order to judge with righteousness and to defend the needy and the poor.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

This “ailment” helped me define what a miracle is: (Merrian Webster defines it as) “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs: an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment: a divinely natural phenomenon experienced humanly as the fulfillment of spiritual law.”

I love Edward Abby’s earthy, guttural opinion about life. The author of “The Monkey Wrench Gang” and, according to Wikipedia, an American author and essayist noted for his advocacy of environmental issues, criticism of public land policies, and anarchist political views, declares, “Only petty minds and trivial souls yearn for supernatural events, incapable of perceiving that everything — everything! — within and around them is pure miracle.”

Meaning: Make everything, good and bad, large and small, great and insignificant, a learning experience that brings forth positive wisdom and creates optimistic legacy.

Tackle those challenges, enjoy those daily miracles, defend all living things’ basic rights, be an active participant and citizen, and appreciate those mysteries of life!