For the past few weeks I have been visiting a patient at Victoria General Hospital. He has been recovering in a 4 bed room along with 3 other patients. The care is exceptional — amazing nursing, physical therapy, food service, cleaning. Each time I visit though I have this feeling that something is missing from their healing regime. That missing piece is community — a sense that they are in some way connected to the larger community that lives outside the walls of the health-care institutions. Every need is cared for on the physical level, but on the heart level — the level of the spirit, there is a thin diet. I know that folks need quiet and rest to recover, but they also need love — visitors of all ages, music, art, etc. — to be engaged in their healing on the emotional and spiritual, as well as the physical level. Something that drew me to community acupuncture in the beginning was this shared understanding among the other acupuncturists who were practicing in community clinics. That, and the way the patients felt at ease with one another — cared for one another — and connected with one another in their shared healing space that is the community acupuncture clinic.
On Christmas day I went in to visit my patient and as I was sitting with him I started humming a song — something I’m known to do from time to time. As we were sitting together a family member from one of the patients in the room asked me if I would come over and sing the song for their father. I said sure and walked across the room, sat down on the edge of his bed and sang him, “go tell it on the mountain.” It was probably not the first time those walls had received the sound of music, but I got the sense it was a rare moment in an otherwise sterile environment. We all ended in tears, our hearts opened in a precious moment. I encourage you all to sometimes challenge the structures we have created, those that serve to protect and keep us safe, but that also often keep us from receiving the essential elements of love, and care, and connection, that we all need more of.