Spiritual sustenance, naturally.

Archive for March, 2019

Harming, Healing, Hope

The following is a post from herbalist Aubrey Ellen Koch. I met her years ago when she was a teen and had the pleasure of making some wearable art for her. She was then and continues to be an empathetic, creative, and gifted person.

In the wake of the New Zealand tragedy, she posted the following on FaceBook and has given me permission to share it with you. Take heart! Let us all be healers, each in our own way.

“On this day and on so many days in the past few years as I watch the rising tide of acceptance for, and indulgence in, deep hatred and white supremacy I have felt hopeless. I feel small and impotent against this deluge of hate. I struggle every day with my own trauma, my own gaping wounds, my depression and the aftermath of the things that were done to me as a child. I struggle with the horror I feel as I see the unfolding of massacre after massacre of people just like me. I struggle with the ancestral memory of the members of my family who died in concentration camps. I struggle with the indelible image of a girl with my face, my body, blown up larger than life in a room at the holocaust museum.
“In the end I am not a violent fighter, and I have no power for revenge, but I pledge myself over and over as a healer to reach my hands out to all who are in pain, who are exhausted, who are fighting for themselves and their families and their community. I pledge myself to those who have been displaced and have no home, who are seeking any safe place to exist. I pledge myself to lift up as many as I can and to be the foundation for anyone who has the heart to fight. I am yours and I will support you with all that I have.”

Aubrey Ellen Koch, back

Spring, Mitochondria, & New Life

As I crawl out from under a bout of influenza A, which was made dangerous for me by my anti-rejection drugs, I contemplate genetics, and how my family has been seriously impacted by auto-immune disease. Somehow aspects of my environment triggered my immune system to go into overdrive and attack the biliary mitochondria in my liver as though attacking a foreign body. My transplant has not eliminated my body’s tendency to do this; it was not a cure. It has given me some more years if I am fortunate, and I struggle to understand what has happened to me and to adjust to my new chimeric life.

 

While spending day after day in bed recovering from the flu, I read Carl Zimmer’s book She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, about the history of heredity and the impact of science upon our understanding of it. The book ended with the author pondering about gene editing of human eggs and embryos (CRISPR), which is currently in the global news as scientists struggle with the ethics and wisdom of using this powerful technology. My head is spinning with all this: I am creeped out by it, and can envision disaster resulting from gene editing, but had the gene(s) responsible for my immune system’s unwarranted attack  been successfully edited away, my transplant would have been unnecessary, and I would not have passed such genes on to my children and grandchildren. That is a heavy burden. If, if, if.

 

Although I learned about mitochondria in science class in high school, it was Madeleine L’Engle’s science/fictional account of Charles Wallace’s illness in A Wind in the Door that first reawakened my curiosity about mitochondria when my children were young. At that time I had no idea how important mitochondria would become in my life. However, it was not L’Engle’s forces of cosmic evil which messed with my mitochondria, but genetics and environment. My love of science fiction is accompanied by my life-long love of science. After all, my father taught genetics at the university level. <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Wind_in_the_Door”>

 

Myth, science, science fiction, religion, folklore, myth….I love it all. It is about trying to understand our place in the cosmos and on Earth. In a confusing, fast-paced, and precarious world, Spring brings me hope. Spring = new life. Today is my donor’s 30th birthday. Happy birthday, Robb! I would not be here without your extremely generous and miraculous gift of part of your liver. I am grateful every day.