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.
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Maria and her children waited in line with 400 others for our clinic gate to open at 8 AM. Our 5 doctors and 2 nurses were each waiting with their interpreter at 7 little tables in the one room church.
Maria was quiet and looked very sad. Her unhappy marriage was causing serious sleep problems. Medication made her feel bad and didn’t help. Her 7-year old daughter had warts on her hands and her 4-year old son was grinding his teeth during sleep.
This was my first mission trip. I had been told that our main service would be touching and loving our patients since our medication supply was insufficient to meet the needs of the people in this impoverished community. Stress-related conditions are common among these farm workers raising bananas, cocoa and other tropical foods. Maria and her children had symptoms often associated with stress.
Center faculty members Bob Buckley, Kathy Farah and Judith Pedersen-Benn , Certified practitioners Matt Erb and Julie Kilpatrick ,and Certification Candidate Noshene Ranjbar, worked with Lakota Indians on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota during November 2011. Here are excerpts from their report.
Our week at Pine Ridge was an exercise in flexibility, organizing as we went, practicing and teaching mind-body skills wherever we could, and being persistent but patient in the process. As word of what we were doing spread, more calls came in to have us work with various groups including the staff of the tribal police department. We learned quickly that if 30 people were registered for a group, this meant to expect 10 or 15!
We split up in various configurations and did a combination of workshops, series of groups, and sometimes one-time groups. In the end, we served around 165 people. We worked with teachers, counselors and students in the schools; the staffs of the tribe’s health administration department and the Indian Health Service hospital including the CEO, nurses, doctors and support staff. We worked with a non-profit that provides social services and foster care placement, and staff and clientele of a local non-profit substance abuse clinic. Each night we held a public group at the Jesuit-run Red Cloud School, open to anyone with interest that drew an eclectic mix of participants.