At the end of last year, I returned from my latest trip to New Mexico. Unlike previous trips to Navajo lands, this time I left feeling demoralized. The message I received was, “Renewal.” I’d been told my ways had become routine and I needed to relearn and renew how I practiced medicine. It was a difficult message to accept. A symphony of confusion, shame and anger arose to meet me and instinctively I wanted to run and hide. But I know strong medicine can be bitter so I stayed put with all the noise and fight of a million voices inside me.
Back home, I went to work to figure out what Renewal was supposed to mean. Perhaps I’d become too philosophical about medicine and just needed to embody physical health - quit coffee, exercise more, renew my meditation and qigong practices. Aha, I thought, that’s it. I called my mentor, Justice Yazzie, and excitedly told him I had it all figured out. He listened quietly as I spoke. Maybe too quietly because at some point, I got the feeling that I was way off base. When he spoke, I felt my cheeks getting warm with his cautionary response “It’s not something to figure out, he said. It’s going to take you many many more years to begin to understand what was said to you. Just keep doing what you are doing. You are so young in your practice and only beginning to understand things.” Almost 20 years in practice, I thought, and just beginning?!
Patience is not a strength of mine. I want to figure everything out now. Around that time, my father fell seriously ill and my attention was redirected to him. I gave him acupuncture and herbs. Fall is the season of letting go and I contemplated the possibility that soon my father would drop away like a fall leaf. The cool crisp grief that lingers in the autumn air felt particularly acute. As fall became winter, I had a strong urge for hibernation. Winter is typically the season of deep contemplation, but I didn’t possess that kind of energy. I ate a lot, bundled up and slept. TIme went by. When the Lunar New Year approached, I felt a stirring. Incubating thoughts and ideas pushing to break ground. Plans for BCA’s pop-up clinic in New Mexico took shape gradually but steadily.
Today as I prepared a self-care handout for Spring, a line caught my eye, “Spring is the season of Renewal.” Renewal… I hadn’t thought of that word since Fall. All the internal turmoil I went through at that time feels like a distant memory. And it makes me laugh inside. The way I fight with myself until I tire myself out, get distracted and then the thing I was trying so hard to grasp emerges as an ungraspable thing--as Life itself. Like when I was in first grade, I wanted so bad to be big like the 6 graders. I wanted to grow faster. For a time, I faked it and acted like my version of what a 6 grader acts like. Of course, it was hard to keep that up, I got distracted and one day I was a 6 grader.
So, what is Renewal? In Chinese medicine, the time of Renewal is Spring - emerging energy and expression, light and lightness. Spring (renewal) comes from Winter (rest) comes from Fall (letting go). Life is always in some stage of change and transition and there aren’t any short cuts. Everything happens in its own time. Now I feel inspired and lifted by Renewal, despite or because of the confusion and resistance that initially knocked me off my feet in New Mexico. Back then I was pleading, “I don’t know what I don’t know!” Then, sometime later in the ceremony, the medicine man responded, “She doesn’t know what she does know.”Medicine is so mysterious and never before have I realized that indeed, I am just a babe.
In Health & Community,