Time is a healer… I believe in those words. Eva Cassidy’s song rings in my mind. I still have bouts with anger, resentment, frustrations… but by-in-large I am really, really well. There is a distance that time provides. Only time can do this work.

I am consistently in the presence of God. Who speak this? It was not I a year ago. Time grows, it lengthens my ability to live in the present.

Recently, I have made financial amends to people that have believed and cared for me in a great many ways – a former landlord, a dear friend and colleague, a recovery group. I lived with those debts through time. In time they were met. My heart is at rest. My face speaks my peace. I walk with confidence.

I am astonished to think how far I have come in such a short time. A year can hold such favor. I work with beautiful children every week. My home is a community of people actively healing themselves, consciously positioning their lives so that a power greater then themselves is free to flow through their experience.

It is suggested to look around and take notice of your relationships… to everything… those relationships that extend into your life reflect your relationship with God. Coming to know God, extending time toward that freeing principle, entering into transparency through empowerment, that path is eternal. There are no secrets; there is time. A secret is a false judgment about the reality of connection; it is an issue of time. Humility is coming to know time for what it is, which is movement, as is the fundamental state of things, of matter.

We know of SpaceTime and its integral intimacy.



The Spirit Catches You

Shamans are, first and last, quintessential mediators. They are threshold crossers, endowed creatures who can go between the earth and the sky. Grand articulators, shamans’ special gift and mission is to bring opposities together – to bring the physical and moral worlds into meaningful conjunction. That is why they are identified with archetypal connectors such as images of ladders, bridges, ropes, and cosmic trees that sink roots into the earth while branching towards the sky… It is the special responsibility of the shaman to celebrate and actualize the coincidences between these two kingdoms and to amplify their resonances, on into another.”

I just finished reading an amazing book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. The author, Anne Fadiman, is an exceptional writer. The book is hilarious and tragic. Fadiman’s ability to navigate the complexities of her research and story telling is nothing short of mastery. The complexity of the tale is captured in the books subtitle: “A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, And The Collision Of Two Cultures.”

The story piviots around the central character of Lia, a Hmong child who suffers from what the Hmong describe as, “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.” Her American doctors call her illness epilepsy. In the course of her condition, Fadiman opens the reader into two very different worlds. We come to know Lia’s family as their struggle to live in America unfolds amidst language barriers, aid dependency, unemployment, untranslatable custom, culture, and change. The Hmong history and worldview enters the MCMC emergency room in Merced, CA as a little girl, seizing. The doctors, all of them “hundred’s of hours dissecting cadavers… had had a single hour of instruction in cross-cultural medicine.” Because when a Hmong patient entered the hospital the problem was not a stomach ache or a seizure, rather that the, “entire universe was out of balance.” For the Hmong, “Medicine was religion, Religion was society. Society was medicine.” The frustations with this primal cultural collision overwhelmed the patients and the MCMC doctors whose aim was their health. “It was typically Hmong for patients to appear passively obedient –thus protecting their own dignity by concealing their ignorance and their doctor’s dignity by acting deferential–and then, as soon as they left the hospital, to ignore everything to which they had supposedly assented.” They didn’t know what a “lung” was, they didn’t believe in taking blood because they didn’t know the body replenished its own blood supply. They didn’t know that the organs they saw in animals corresponded to their own because they always buried their own intact. The Hmong would sometime slaughter live animals in the hospital for sacrificial ceremony; they would bang gongs; often more than 60 tribe members at a time would expect to be by the patients bed side. One doctor, a friend of Fadiman’s from college would jokingly suggest that the “preferred method of treatment for them (Hmong) was high-velocity transcortical lead therapy. (When asked what that meant, he explained, “The patient should be shot in the head.”) 

Fadiman makes the small differences between the cultures the point of study. She honors radical difference while preserving the hope that through time understand, empathy, and healing are our natural aim.

I was assigned this book in a course I took a few years ago called, “Science, Ecology, and Contested Knowledge,” at the California Institute of Integral Studies. A fantastic course taught by Elizabeth Allison, we looked critically into sciences studies and how culture constitutes what shows up as “science”. The Spirit Catches You… is a course of luminosity into this truism, as it highlights the barriers and the “collisions,” between Western Medicine – a hyper-materialist worldview surrounded by experts, legality, and control – and the Hmong worldview – a collective spiritual animism, whose understanding of the entire world extends from its religio-sacred quality.

In one of Fadiman’s final chapter’s called, “The Life or the Soul,” she had sit down with an psychotherapist sympathetic to the Hmong’s worldview and one of the attending doctors familiar with the drama at MCMC brought by the Hmong and Lia’s case in particular. Over a discussion of Hmong shamanism, the psychotherapist volunteered that she had once told a doctor at MCMC that a txiv neeb (Hmong shaman) of her acquaintance had a direct line to God. The doctor had responded, “Well, I have a direct line to biochemistry.”

There are no conclusions to these matters. There is time. There is an open hospitality to change and common humanity. I was recently told that, The Spirit Catches You… is now, and has been for some time, required reading in many, many medical courses facing cross-cultural issues.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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A few excepts from Writing and Difference:

“Face to face with the other within a glance and a speech wich both maintain distance and interrupt all totalities, this being-together as separation precedes or exceeds society, collectivity, community. Levinas calls it religion. It opens ethics. The ethical relation is a religious relation… Not a religion, but the religion, the religiosity of the religious, the is transcendence beyond negativity is not accomplished by an intuition of a positive presence; it “only institutes languange at the point where neither no nor yes is the first word” but an interrogation. Not a theoretical interrogation, however, but a total question, a distress and denuding, a supplication, a demainding prayer addressed to a freedom, that is, to an commandment: the only possible ethical imperative, the only incarnedted nonviolence in that it is respect for the other.”

Jacques Derrida

Jacques Derrida (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And my most quoted excerpt from Derrida:

“A community of decision, of initiative, of absolute initiality, but also a threatened community, in which the question has not yet found the language in has decided to seek, is not yet sure of its own possibility within the community. A community of the question about the possibility of the question. This is very little–almost nothing–but within it, today, is sheltered and encapsulated an unbreachable dignity and duty of decision. An unbreachable responsibility. Why unbreachable? Because the impossible has already occurred.”



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I am proud to re-blog this post from Adam R’s (((Knowledge Ecology))) … I make this offering waiting to see a chiropracticor in Chattanooga, TN… cause that matters!
Thank you Adam, for this most engaging play with a worthy title.