When we are struggling with an illness, injury or any health problem….we are reliant on the ‘healers’….those persons who play a role in our recovery and healing.
In 2006, the discomfort on the outer area of my right kneecap worsened to the point where I sought a medical opinion from an orthopedic surgeon. The x-rays revealed a meniscus tear and surgery was in order.
I hate visits to the doctor’s office. I loathe hospital stays. I despise hearing the prognosis “surgery”. Although this procedure would be considered fairly minor, no major organs involved…it was still a big deal to me.
I pulled out all the stops in preparation.
This was a period of time when I was heavily into spirituality. I met once a year with an astrologer as well as a tarot reader, women who were ‘members’ of my team of personal life guides.
I had an “altar” in my office covered with eagle and turkey feathers, family pictures, greeting cards from those I love, Spirit dolls, crystals and statues and other objects that were gifts from friends and my partner, colorful sea glass and awesome shells collected on every beach I have ever walked, unusual stones from Monhegan and Campobello Islands, magic wands, spiritual books and several decks of angel cards.
Through ‘journeying’ at a Shamanic workshop, I met my Power Animal (snake) and a loin-clothed, caveman-like character who became my Spirit Guide.
In the mountains of New Hampshire at the onset of winter, I walked a labyrinth, participated in a blindfolded trust walk and a sleep deprived overnight in a cone-shaped tipi. Dory Cote, a Shamanic leader in Maine, led me through a soul retrieval session and one of her workshops on Soul Painting. I offered a Spiritual and Personal Growth group to women in my private practice.
Vision quests, drumming circles and chakra meditation were my portals to peace and understanding.
Having grown up in an Irish Catholic household, it was a difficult departure as an adult to leave the teachings of my religion, but I was no longer able to associate with the doctrines of the Church and eventually found more solace, soul connection and a sense of ‘spiritual residence’ in Nature, Shamanism, Buddhism and Native American spirituality.
Given this orientation, it was an easy transition to seek non-traditional forms of healing, which included Reiki therapy, a Japanese Buddhist alternative modality that advocates relaxation, reduces stress and promotes healing through a ‘laying on hands’ technique. I worked with a Reiki therapist for a week before and after surgery.
Lying on her table in my living room the night before my procedure, in a darkened, candlelit space, her hands lightly touching my forehead, she leaned over and whispered, “Tomorrow is the first day of your healing.” Such a gentle reframe and departure from the concern and scare I felt as I imagined my leg cut open in the morning.
She accompanied me to the hospital and utilizing her hands-on approach, calmed me completely on the gurney just before I was ‘rolled’ into the operating room.
The repaired knee would require physical therapy post surgery, so I explored the possibility of working with someone who combined the ‘western’ medicine mechanics of PT as well as embraced the ‘eastern’ model of more holistic, alternative, spiritual methods.
I found her!
Donna Maria was heaven-sent. Her work with me was a combination of what I was seeking in the combo of a medical and spiritual realm. She had a downtown office….and one in her residence as well. I opted for home visits as she lived very near to me on Great Island in Maine….and I imagined my PT experience in such an environment would provide a more comfortable setting for healing.
Truth be told….it could not have been more perfect.
Physical therapy appointments were held in the front room of her home at 13 Graveyard Road, a dated Victorian house, properly worn and warmly inviting….a few miles drive farther out on my island…situated on a jagged coastline with open ocean views. Stretched out between her home and the sea….a declining family graveyard….dwarfed by a bountiful garden of wildflowers, completed the ambiance for mending.
Her demeanor, her benevolence, her skills and the gratefulness I felt for the central role she played in my recovery from surgery, moved me to write a poem of gratitude.
We all have known these angels who show up when we are most in need.
This poem is the tribute to mine……
“The Healer “
Waves of oat-colored hair caught in a clip settle at her crown,
coiled tendrils spiral down to bright eyes
lined in blue.
The hem of a silken camisole grazes the waist of her skirt
to bony ankles.
I pray she’s a good witch.
Inside her healing habitat,
pale porcelain angels peek from corners
and attach to walls
conveying a hint of hopefulness.
Lighted candles illuminate the room
with the musty smell of patchouli.
Here, she performs her magic
with small, knowing hands
that lightly touch
the taut, twisted muscle
and bruised bone
expelling the anguish that once resided there.
From the cushioned table
in this seasoned parlor
at 13 Graveyard Point Road
with an ocean vista stretching just beyond
the granite markers
of the dead,
I look up,
and I bless her.