The following is a contribution to the Heroes of Healing Group Writing Project by Mohikana Calizar. Thank you Mohikana for sharing the inspirational work of Rachel Naomi Remen. The bottom of this post will share updates on where the Project is now.
Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. by Mohikana Calizar (who can be reached at email@example.com)
“Rachel Naomi Remen is one of the earliest pioneers in the mind/body holistic health movement and the first to recognize the role of the spirit in health and the recovery from illness. She is Co-Founder and Medical Director of the Commonweal Cancer Help Program featured in the Bill Moyers PBS series, Healing and the Mind and has cared for people with cancer and their families for almost 30 years…She is also a nationally recognized medical reformer and educator who sees the practice of medicine as a spiritual path. In recognition of her work she has received several honorary degrees and has been invited to teach in medical schools and hospitals throughout the country. Her groundbreaking holistic curricula enable physicians at all levels of training to remember their calling and strengthen their commitment to serve life.”www.rachelremen.com
Rachel Naomi Remen is a master storyteller who finds the essence of humanness through her gifts as listener and teller. Her 48 year old personal history of Crohn's disease has woven a rich, authentic voice as a physician, teacher and healer of self. Her books Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings are filled with beautiful tales that heal the heart and soul of a society seeking comfort and connect at times of lost hope, confusion and isolation. Before there were bloggers, there were storytellers like Rachel Naomi Remen.
What have I, Mokihana Calizar, learned from Rachel Naomi Remen:
(I have included several quotes from this original article that appeared in the Noetic Sciences Review, Spring 1996 because it may not be readily available to be read in its entirety.)
I am a storyteller who was given a reprint of an article “In the Service of Life,” written in 1996 by Rachel Naomi Remen at a time when the threads of my life were snipped into pieces. There lay the disconnected parts of my life/my story I thought would always be true. What I learn from this article served as compost for my shredded life at the time, and continues to teach me twelve years later. I thought I needed “help” but after reading this article again and again, and then again year after year, I learn Help is not what heals. “ Helping incurs debt. When you help someone they owe you one. But serving, like healing is mutual. There is no debt.” That lesson remains the core life lesson of my life. I have experienced many losses in my life, and sought teachers, physicians, counselors and friends to aid me. Time and time again throughout my more than 60 years, I live the lesson that fixing and helping are different than serving. “ Fundamentally, helping, fixing, and service are ways of seeing life. When you help you see life as weak, when you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole.”
When I began the rebuilding of life as I’d known it 14 years ago, I suspected that many ideas I had about myself and the way I understood life might need tweaking. Today I laugh at the depth and breath of a ‘tweak’ when it comes to the evolution of my soul. Storytellers like Rachel Naomi Remen have given me hope and courage to challenge people in positions of authority when their opinions smell of helping or fixing my life. When I was diagnosed with “cell tissues of questionable character” coupled with two surgeons opinion to remove my thyroid because of that diagnosis I heard my deep self ask, “What would Rachel Naomi do? What stories would she encourage in me?” The answers I got from this experience have led me to believe this final paragraph from the article “In the Service of Life,” “ Fixing and helping are the basis of curing, but not of healing. In 40 years of chronic illness I have been helped by many people and fixed by a great many others who did not recognize my wholeness. All that fixing and helping left me wounded in some important and fundamental ways. Only service heals.” I live with my whole thyroid with cell tissues that re-generated with time and attention. She, my thyroid, is as I have come to believe, the messenger of love situated on my fifth charka point in the throat. To be without her would mean love to be a distant ‘thing’ dependent upon prescriptions someone has conjured. I have much to learn about being of service to life, and know in my bones that when questionable cells show up they have stories worth hearing and “ Real stories take time …” (from “Listening Generously The Medicine of Rachel Naomi Remen.)
The Deadline for Submissions is still Friday October 3, 2008. There are still many Heroes missing from the below list. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to write about someone not posted or comment on someone already on the list. I am THRILLED with the way this project is turning out and look forward to posting the full list Monday, October 6th on my new site. Thank you for all your support!