Faith, Hope and Charity, is it possible that one small gift could give the recipient all of these things and more? In a world where what makes the news on a daily and hourly basis is the reporting of the failures and shadow side of humanity, we’ve lost our perspective on what is real in daily life. The fact is, on most any given day, something terribly devastating won’t happen to you and if that day does come, there are enlightened, compassionate human beings who stand ready to be of service and gather at your side.
With this thought in mind dear readers, we’ve reached the last and perhaps most important gift in our 12 Gifts of Enlightenment Series, which is: Give the Gift of Hope.
The Health Arts Network at Duke (HAND) holds a vision of integrating the arts with healthcare and has been accomplishing this mission since 1978, offering literary, visual and performing arts to staff, visitors, patients and their families. HAND is recognized nationally as being one of most comprehensive hospital arts programs in the United States. On the HAND website, Kevin Sowers, CEO of Duke University Hospital states, ‘As we think to the future of the delivery of healthcare, more and more, we will be faced with the challenges of further understanding the mind, body and spirit connection. The arts draw on all three pieces; the mind, body and spirit. I believe advancement of our understanding of psycho-neuroimmunology and the impact and influence of the arts on healing and well-being will be an important component of the future of the delivery of healthcare’.
Offering an admirable array of services, HAND has an Artist in Residence program, where professional musicians perform at patient bedsides and waiting areas, maintains an inventory of over 2000 original artworks through the medical center, including placing original art in patient rooms, and features a touchable art gallery collection, accessible to children who are awaiting eye surgery.
Readily apparent at HAND is the outpouring of compassion and love in these programs. As a writer, I was particularly drawn to a program called the Write for You Literary Art program. Led by Grey Brown, the Literary Arts Coordinator for HAND, the program provides free journals to oncology patients, patients receiving bone marrow transplants, psychiatric care patients, high risk pregnancy mothers on long term bed rest, cardiology patients, recipients of organ transplants, family members of patients, and patients referred to the program by care givers. The program provides patients with the journals and organizes group sessions to write and read poetry and offers participants the opportunity to share their journaling if they feel comfortable doing so. According to Grey Brown, many patients are in long term care, spending their days in the hospital. One example of a therapeutic group exercise is ‘seasonal journaling’, which allows patients who are indoors to connect with nature and the seasons through their writings, sharing their emotions and memories with others.
The program reports that the journals can help patients and their families reduce stress, explore feelings they have associated with both their illness and their healing journey, express gratitude, track physical and emotional changes on a daily basis, make notes to discuss regarding their health care, record personal feelings, fears and prayers, as well as track their medications and treatment schedules.
When speaking with Grey Brown, what I felt strongly was that the journals offered the gift of hope. There is a power in writing and in sharing and expressing those thoughts with others. For many people, journaling allows them to step out of the fray and connect with their thoughts as they physically engage in the act of writing them down. During this process, the writing releases the emotions and allows for a healing process to begin. I asked Grey, who has run this program since 1998, why she chooses to do this work, for certainly, it takes strong character and an open heart to work with patients who are dealing with life threatening illness on such a personal level. Her reply was, ‘I’m doing what I know to do, I have an ease in the hospital, it makes me happy. What I love about the patients is that they are living in the moment, it’s a privilege for me to be in their midst’. Grey, who is also a poet, began the program offering journals to the pediatric bone marrow transplant patients and families and since then it has spread to serve the six other organizations mentioned above. Her future plans for the program include expanding to community settings creating groups which combine poetry, journaling and healing as well as providing journals to hospice programs.
HAND’s Write for You journal program, is in need of your help. In the past, some publishers donated journals to the program, but with the decline of the economy hitting the publishing industry very hard, HAND is no longer receiving journals from the publishing industry. If the spirit calls to you, Give the Gift of Hope, contact Grey Brown at HAND and send a journal to their program or a donation to purchase journals. The very journal you send today, can be in someone’s hands tomorrow, bringing peace, comfort, and hope. Let’s change the news and change the world, one step at a time. Share the news with others about HAND and encourage friends, co-workers and groups to participate and send in journals and donations and lend a helping hand. In the words of my favorite poet, Maya Angelou, ‘I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver’.
Gentle readers, as we draw to the closing of the 12 Gifts of Enlightenment, my wish is that these gifts have encouraged you to try some of them in your daily lives as well as offered inspiration as gift ideas for the metaphysically inclined people in your life. May the new year bring you great blessings and joy.
Hoping that your days are merry and bright,
Kala is an award winning author, intuitive and talk show host of the Explore Your Spirit with Kala Show. Her thought-provoking interviews entice listeners to tune in around the globe! Described by her guests and listeners as discerning, empowering and inspiring, she speaks with world renowned authors, artists, teachers and researchers delving into metaphysical, holistic and paranormal topics. Kala’s book, 9 Life Altering Lessons: Secrets of the Mystery Schools Unveiled delves into the mysteries of ancient Egyptian mystery schools and explains their wisdom teachings. Kala lectures on Esoteric Teachings, Developing Business Intuition, Working with Auras, Chakras and Energy Fields, and Wise Woman Wisdom (also known as the Divine Feminine). Kala’s Guided Meditations CD’s include Spirit of Hawaii and Egyptian Mystery Temple and Tibetan Mountain Journey. More info: www.ExploreYourSpirit.com