Becoming Fully Human

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One does not become fully human painlessly. ~ Rollo May

Phillip and I gratefully received our second dose of the Moderna vaccine this Wednesday and initially felt we’d been spared any of the publicized side-effects, until about 30 hours later, when we both experienced every flu symptom known to humans. Chills, fever, sore eyes, headaches, and–sweet mercy–intense muscle pain. We had to laugh through our misery, knowing every bit of pain signified the medicine was working.

I slept in the guest room last night so we could both–maybe–find deeper rest and comfort. This morning, Phillip reported he had a fair sleep, which pleased my heart. I, conversely, tossed and turned from the muscle pain, watched some dull television, read as long as I could, then just practiced deep breathing and listened to the Great Horned Owl hooting along the river from his perch in the ancient oak. I got out of bed to open the door to the deck and was treated to the deeper haunting resonance of his night music, the almost-full moon’s spectacular reflections of branches on brilliant snow, and the sweet smell of seasons shifting. It floated through the chilled humid air: the perfectly blended scent of winter meeting spring. Heady stuff, that of course completely removed any physical discomfort from my consciousness.

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It reminded me of other times in my life when my suffering seemed to need deepening to encourage or sustain my healing, and how the companionship of others–friends and beloveds, volunteers, 4-leggeds, or the mysterious combination of a Great Horned Owl hooting in nature’s perfumed moonlight–eased my pain and allowed a time of relief. I thought about the many times I supported my patients through their own suffering until pain medications could help alleviate the worst of it.

Rollo May says we don’t become fully human without pain, I suppose meaning that, in our suffering and afterwards, in recollection, we learn more about others’ suffering, about our own endurance, and about the preciousness of all we hold dear, brought into greater relief.

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But I think the concept is worth turning over and digesting more deeply: in our suffering, we become more dependent on others, on the deep peace of the world, for relief. I can’t distract myself with myself; I need others’ words, touch, care, compassion…or the music of birdsong, the beauty of winter moonlight, the aroma of spring brewing just outside my window…it’s all these connections to life that also make us more fully aware that to be human means to be in relationship with everything. We’re here to serve each other’s healing, to ease the pain we endure to become fully human.

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And so, although I did not sleep, I felt greatly comforted, and was profoundly grateful for those who created the vaccine, for those who administered it to us, for Phillip and the 4-leggeds, for the owl, the moonlight, the delicate air, and for all the relationships in my life and the ways they serve my healing and allow me to use my gifts in serving theirs. Perhaps we’re only as human as we are consciously immersed in reciprocal and grateful relationship with the world.

Early this morning, I walked out into the misty sunrise feeling a bit more myself, which is to say, different, new, healing, and more fully human.

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Some of my visitors this week:

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12 thoughts on “Becoming Fully Human

    1. This is so kind of you; thank you. We both feel great now…just a blip while our bodies adjusted and learned about the virus/spikes. ♥️

      Yes, we love where we live. Hope you are well and safe, and send you gentle peace. 😊

  1. I got my second yesterday and feel fine, except for my but, back and knees which is due to falling on that ice and has nothing to do with the virus. Lucky, I guess~! Beautiful photos an thoughts.

    1. Oh, dear! I’m so sorry to hear you fell, Sam. I hope all your soreness will heal well and quickly! Congratulations on receiving your second vaccine. And thank you for your kindness in commenting here when you’re not feeling so great.
      Gentle Peace, Sam!

  2. Your reflection today provides me with a roadmap and a tool for what may happen – thank you 🙏. (The vaccines are starting to roll out here in Australia – not sure when it will be my turn, so in the meantime i will practice patience and keep in touch with Nature around me).
    With love

  3. Oh, I hope your wait won’t be too long, antsimon! My older brother and his wife have not heard one word about availability. The entire logic and equity regarding vaccine availability and access was so bumbled for the past year; I’m really encouraged that it’s now under intelligent management and improving.

    Will hold your waiting and its satisfaction in my heart! Stay safe and well, my friend. Gentle Peace.

  4. So lovely, so true.

    The things that help us feel whole, that heal us often come in the middle of the night When light is the brightest

    Thank you Kitty I love your writing and your pieces

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    1. Thank you, Nancy…yes, I agree about the healing power of the night. I so appreciate your kindness, Nancy, Thank you for visiting and so beautifully sharing. Be well and safe, and gentle peace.

  5. Thanks for sharing your experience. I too received my first dose on Wednesday as a type one diabetic, and was floored by exactly the same side effects. Like you I lay and listened to the birds, a neighbouring cat and relished the night air to soothe my raging temperature. Stay well 🙂

    1. Oh, I’m so sorry you suffered, too, Muriel, but it’s good to learn you also found some comfort in just being present to the gifts the world offered. I think we have a very specific solidarity club of people all over the world (I hope soon in larger and more equitable numbers) recovering from our Covid shots! Gentle peace as you regain your wellness, Muriel. Thank you so much for your wisdom.

  6. What a wonderful night to be awake, taking in nature in all her glory. You just can’t beat listening to owl at night, it’s magical. Sorry to hear of your suffering but delighted to know you’ve had both jabs now. Your pictures are beautiful, especially the first one which seems to have captured a ghost. Love and hugs to you all.xxxx

  7. The suffering was brief and superficial; it reminded us, after all, how blessed we are to have received the vaccine. It was a magical–and healing–night, yes. I love the owls and their night music. And I love you! Be well, dear one. xxxx

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