I was looking for a picture for this post, so I entered the word, healing, into the search engine over at Pixabay. I wasn’t really surprised by what I found, or what I didn’t find. The photos were all very light and airy. There were pictures of crystals – especially clear quartz and amethyst, pretty flowers, blue skies, sunshine, a beautiful person offering massage in a lovely space, a svelte yogi in a complicated pose, and a few cannabis leaves. There were some collections of words – grounded, centered, whole, connected. Lovely words.
Those kinds of pictures show one part of healing – the part that our consumer culture is really digging on right now.
The images I was looking for were nowhere to be seen. I have a very strong opinion about why. Here it is: because those images aren’t PRETTY. They aren’t NICE.
It’s not that the stock photos that I found are wrong. They’re not. They represent a part of the healing process that I have experienced personally and with clients. The sweet, high vibration singing bowl kind of healing is lovely. And it’s marketable.
It’s also incomplete.
The fact of the matter is that the Healing journey, should you wish to sign on (or take the infamous Red Pill like Nemo), can be darker than a closed coffin. It often smells like rotting corpses, tastes like milk gone sour, and feels like a scouring pad rubbed on an already open wound. It can be (and I’ve found, in my personal and professional work, that it often is) a crying child standing with their head in the corner. Healing can be ugly. It can be lonely and scary. The image I was looking for represents ALL THAT AND a sparkly amethyst. I wanted it all.
In my mind, I see a trail. The Healer, the person who seeks healing, stands at the head of the trail. If we could pan out and see into the future, we would see the trail winding forward, around, and back on itself. We would see bits of sunlight and periods of stormy weather. There would be shards of glass, discarded Teddy Bears, and bright, shiny stones and flowers – fields and fields of them. We would see ourselves hiding in hedges and under rocks and dancing with bees in sunlight.
I’ve never seen a photograph or digital image that fully encompasses Healing. Even the great movies, myths and stories only get it partially right. They all have a clear beginning, middle and end. While I do love the idea of the Hero’s Journey, I don’t see it as a fully-faceted illustration of Healing – not for most people – certainly not for me. I see the classic Hero’s Journey as a figurative day-trip or a weekend excursion. Healing is an Odyssey; it may have several of these little side trips over time. The wise Healer will know to keep a box of postcards and souvenirs, a jar of stones and shells from these adventures. Why? Because they will have learned that revisiting the faces and places is not only possible, it’s probable, and the treasures we find the first time can serve as talismans, cookie crumbs, and keys the next time around.
Like the human Being stepping in, it’s complicated. Bright and shiny, dark and oily and all things in between. Healing is about taking those complicated bits and weaving them together into an integrated whole.
Those who choose Healing are Warriors. They may be feeling small and scared or strong and powerful. They might be well-armored, or they may be naked. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that they show up at the head of the trail, open their eyes and step forward.