Recently I spent a morning in the midst of a crowd awed by the release of seven rehabilitated sea turtles on the coast of South Carolina. The largest at 600 pounds was missing a flipper; several were “cold shocked” and/or suffered fungal infections. We chuckled as two turtles reversed gear towards the dunes and those who’d restored them to health before all eventually swam away to elated cheers.
The majority watching were locals– many knew the turtle’s stories or donated to their care. I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to witness this restorative connection of man and creature. Later reflecting on the almost surreal delight I experienced, the correlation to my personal quest and engrossment in healing work surfaced.
With our three-year pilot almost complete, I celebrate and contemplate. Dr. Gordon’s model at Spartanburg Regional has been fruitful. Over 150 individuals have completed our Mind-Body Skills Groups; outcomes document mood improvement of between 73-77%. Participation is diverse – cancer patients, survivors of other chronic illnesses, healthcare professionals and “well” community members. Leading groups for Michelin a second year, we’re poised to evaluate that success on healthcare expenditures.
Efforts were spurred on by Dr. Gordon’s leadership at our Oncology Symposium and a community presentation last fall. Now we anticipate Thomas Moore and Emmett Miller at our June Healing Journeys conference. Personally, the privilege of facilitating 14 groups so far has elicited joy – the luster of each person in each group reflecting on us all as cohorts in each other’s healing. Even so, “uneasy, two steps back turtle moments” often tempt me to crawl to shore instead of dive deeper.
But the pull of the ocean remains strong – stormy, tidal, powerful and peaceful – the healing quest once started must complete. The soul and spirit of health-giving work initiated by our physicians, nurses, clergy, philanthropists, and yes, everyday people like myself continues to activate that force individually and collectively. The in-between tide and time invites me to connect with myself, others and something bigger. It’s a wonderful ride!