A willingness to wander
“The thing about healing, as opposed to curing, is that it is relational. It takes time. It is inefficient, like a meandering river. Rarely does healing follow a straight or well-lit path. Rarely does it conform to our expectations or resolve in a timely manner. Walking with someone through grief…requires patience, presence, and a willingness to wander, to take the scenic route.” — Rachel Held Evans
In a society that seems determined to strive for warp speed in everything, it is not surprising that the quick cure is more popular than healing. But some maladies are not curable. As Dr. Lissa Rankin explains, “healing and curing are inherently different. Curing means ‘eliminating all evidence of disease,’ while healing means ‘becoming whole.'”
Healing takes time, and often leaves scars. While the hope of a cure focuses on a return to normal (whatever normal was), healing almost always leaves us changed in some way. When a complete recovery isn’t in the cards, when our lives are changed irrevocably, we still may have the hope of healing. But we have a long road ahead of us, and as Evans affirms, very few of us are able to travel it alone.
It’s a protracted and painful journey, and rare indeed are those who are ready to accompany us on that path more than briefly. Those who stay close enough to share our pain will also share our frustration, exhaustion, bewilderment and anger. No wonder so few will sign on for such a role. And no wonder physicians, therapists and other paid care providers can only provide a small measure of what is needed for the healing process.
Here’s to those who are willing to wander through this wilderness with us. It is indeed a scenic route, though not in a picture-postcard sense. But not all of the landscapes are desolate. Wildflowers and rainbows appear unexpectedly. Bare trees and silent tombstones radiate an otherworldly beauty. The dusk brings a haunting solace born of the deep-seated understanding that dawn is only half a day away, no matter how far off it may seem.