Time to Heal?
I have been a great fan of Terry Pratchett for many years and have been deeply moved by some of his novels. While they are generally hysterically funny, they also contain some quite profound wisdom.
One of my favourites is Masquerade, one of the series of novels written about the witches of the Ramtops, a coven of extraordinary women, lead by the inimitable Granny Weatherwax. Esme Weatherwax is a force of nature, someone you want on your side, and not someone to cross lightly. In Masquerade, she performs a feat of magic, or so people think, by catching a sharp sword in her bare hand without being cut to the bone by it. The following comes from two passages very close to the end of the book; the first she is discussing events with her oldest (and best) friend Gytha(Nanny) Ogg:
“‘Everyone was very impressed, I reckon, when you caught that sword in your hand. . .’
Granny sighed. ‘Hah! Yes, I expect they were. They didn’t think clearly, did they? People’re just lazy. They never think: maybe she had something in her hand, a bit of metal or something. They don’t think for a minute it was just a trick. They don’t think there’s always a perfectly good explanation if you look for it. They probably think it was some kind ofmagic.’
‘Yeah, but. . . you didn’t have anything in your hand, did you?’
‘That’s not the point. I might have done.’ Granny looked up and down the square. ‘Besides, you can’t magic iron.
‘That’s very true. Not iron. Now, someone like ole Black Aliss, they
could make their skin tougher than steel. . . but that’s just an ole
legend, I expect. . .’
‘She could do it all right,’ said Granny. ‘But you can’t go round messin’ with cause and effect. That’s what sent her mad, come the finish. She thought she could put herself outside of things like cause and effect.Well, you can’t. You grab a sharp sword by the blade, you get hurt.World’d be a terrible place if people forgot that.’
‘You weren’t hurt.’
‘Not my fault. I didn’t have time.’”
“The trees were bare when Granny Weatherwax got back to her cottage.
Twigs and seeds had blown in under the door. Soot had fallen down the chimney. Her home, always somewhat organic, had grown a little closer to its roots in the clay.
There were things to do, so she did them. There were leaves to be swept, and the woodpile to be built up under the eaves. The windsock behind the beehives, tattered by autumn storms, needed to be darned. Hay had to begot in for the goats. Apples had to be stored in the loft. The walls could do with another coat of whitewash.
But there was something that had to be done first. It’d make the other jobs a bit more difficult, but there was no help for that. You couldn’t magic iron. And you couldn’t grab a sword without being hurt. If that wasn’t true, the world’d be all over the place.
Granny made herself some tea, and then boiled up the kettle again. She took a handful of herbs out of a box on the dresser, and dropped them in a bowl with the steaming water. She took a length of clean bandage out of a drawer and set it carefully on the table beside the bowl. She threaded an extremely sharp needle and laid needle and thread beside the bandage.
She scooped a fingerful of greenish ointment out of a small tin, and smeared it on a square of lint.
That seemed to be it.
She sat down, and rested her arm on the table, palm-up.
‘Well,’ she said, to no one in particular, ‘I reckon I’ve got time now.’”
(Masquerade by Terry Pratchett)
How often have we done the same feat but without swords and magic and put off dealing with wounds?
I do it all the time and one of the reasons is because I lack the skills to mend myself, the way Granny stitches up her own hand without flinching. So the wounds go untreated and they fester until a greater surgery is needed and I need open-hearted surgery.
At the moment I am thinking(and talking about, especially with J) very deeply about a form of healing that does away with so many of the things we think are essential to the healing process, like the line between patient and therapist and the rigid following of guidelines that had become Holy Writ.
I’ll keep you all posted.