From Linda Lee Greene, Author/Artist
I spent the better part of 1999 and 2000 in bed, either my own bed or a hospital’s. I was then at the peak of a decade of suffering a particularly aggressive type of Crohns Disease. The illness had outsmarted all treatments and medications. My only activity was the constant race between the bed and the bathroom. I had no thought of tomorrow; no interest beyond the four walls that was my tiny cave. I had no strength to resist or to direct anything. I was like a feather swept along in the current of a mighty river. There were two options available to me—either waste away and soon die—or undergo a type of major surgery that might slow the disease or even stop it—or the surgery might not help at all. The surgery’s only guarantee was that it would alter my way of life, drastically and permanently and would leave me with regrettable physical and emotional side-effects forevermore. There was no crystal ball into which I could peer to get a sense of the form the new life would take.
The truth is that I had yearned for a different life long before getting sick with Crohns Disease. I was nearing middle age and I still did not cherish my uniqueness; I existed only on the surface of my potential; I was terrified to discover the purpose of the second act of my life. The first act had been fraught with heartbreak and tragedy and had left me reeling and petrified. For many years thereafter, I grasped onto any diversion that would help me to avoid risking a “real” life again. I had lost my nerve, and I hated the cowering person I had become. And then, Crohns Disease took over and took me down…literally down to the flat of my back. The diversions dried up; my options (I had always had my pick among many) vanished. It was a curse! But I will let you in on a little secret: It was also a blessing!
I watched the 1974 film adaptation of author Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express on TV the other evening. Brilliant writer that Christie was, she marooned that train on its impassable, snow-packed tracks to create the circumstances and carve out the time required for Detective Hercule Poirot to solve the mystery of the murder on the train. Had the train kept on barreling down its tracks, the murder would never have been solved.
I did not have the services of Christie’s Belgian sleuth to solve the mystery that loomed over me. Something else even better showed up for me. It was “the inner whispering of Self”, a Lutheran theologian called it four centuries ago. Others call it “Daemon” or “Voice” or an assortment of other names. Whatever it is called, it was a kind of energy that had lingered outside my consciousness until the time was right to show itself to me. I have come to call it “Muse”.
The morning of August 10, 2000, Muse first appeared to me as an elaborate, fictional story that ran through my head, a story I got busy and turned into a novel and eventually published. In short, Muse showed me that I was a writer, and that writing was to be my new way of life, one I could easily accommodate in the narrowed circumstances that would be the result of the surgery. I underwent surgery in January, 2001. It put the illness in remission, and since that time, I have worked around the side-effects of the surgery, which range from mild to difficult.
We are told that everything happens for a reason. If that is true, then I had to be pushed to the brink of death by Crohns Disease to finally see the light. In essence, I had to be stopped in my tracks. Maybe I was so stubborn that it could not have happened in any gentler way. All I know is that I was on a journey (I think of it as a ‘spiritual journey’) to become a writer. Since that fateful day in August, 2000, I have accepted writing as my mandate. It is my pay-back to the “inner whispering of Self,” that saved me.
March, 2020 stopped all of us in our tracks. Like so many of us, I was paralyzed for months. I couldn’t write! I couldn’t think! I couldn’t justify that writing was even worth it. I felt that anything I might write would come across as so very trivial set against the unspeakable suffering of humanity wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic. Eventually, I woke up to the fact that writers are an absolute necessity in such times. It seems to me that we are decreed by the very fact that we are able to do it to write stories that create a distraction for people. I think it is our duty to be practicing members of a society of writers who accept that our work is essential for humankind’s sanity these days.
I still have unexpected moments when I cannot help but be amazed at the “inner whispering of Self” that commands me. I believe an equivalent force commands each and every one of us—if we stop long enough to let it catch up with us.©
Multi-award-winning author and artist Linda Lee Greene has released her sixth book. Titled Garden of the Spirits of the Pots, A Spiritual Odyssey, it is a blend of visionary and inspirational fiction with a touch of romance. The story unfolds as ex-pat American Nicholas Plato journeys into parts unknown, both within himself and his adopted home of Sydney, Australia. In the end, the odyssey reveals to him his true purpose for living. The novella is available in eBook and paperback. Just click the following link and it will take you straight to the page on Amazon on which you can purchase it: https://www.amazon.com/GARDEN-SPIRITS-POTS-SPIRITUAL-ODYSSEY-ebook/dp/B09JM7YL6F/