Writing as healing

Ask readers, “What helped you through your divorce, or through your grief, or what inspired you to go for your dream?” Commonly, they will tell you about something they have read. The self-help section of a bookstore is a well-browsed array of advice written by distant healers. Say to a writer, “You are a distance healer” and the response would likely be a puzzled frown.

What have you read that spoke to you at a deep level? It could as easily have been a poem as a novel, an essay, or a play. What touched you may have been in a book, in a magazine, or on a poster. It might have been fiction or non-fiction. Literature can touch our souls. As a young person, Dr. Hudson’s Secret Journal was the impetus for me to start the life-long practice of journaling. I am sure that Lloyd Douglas had no idea that he would change my life.

I now understand the expression, “in the particular is the universal.” I understand that as a reader you may resonate with my struggle or my strength; you may feel what I felt as you read what I have written. You may grow with me, as I grew through the events I describe. As an author, I am present through my words yet absent in your life.

Long before the formal profession of counseling or psychotherapy, there was literature. We learned who were the bad guys in life and who were the heroes and what it takes to make it in the world. We imagined, through the characters of the classics, the pain of loss and the pride of achievement. Writers were teachers; writers were healers; writers were leaders. They taught and healed and led with the written word. They still do. Something I write may be healing to you. Something you write may be healing to me. Even a letter, a thank you note, a reference letter may make a difference in my life. We will likely never know when we are healing or helping in absentia.

Over the years, the symbolic nature of prayer flags has intrigued me. Where they are hoisted is blessed with the spirit of the person being honored. And so it is with words offered to the unknown reader.