Sunday, April 3, 2016

It Has Been Said, "Music Has Charms to Soothe the Savage Breast."

Sometimes when the sadness in your soul grows so thick and heavy with pain and illness and medication and weariness that you can't even crack a passable fake smile anymore (and our kind is very, very good at cracking fake smiles), what you need is a good cry and let that sadness out instead of thinking up new ways to hide it. You know, a "Brian's Song," "Bambi," or "Beaches" cathartic kind of cry, a cry that's sparked by something that's got nothing to do with yourself, but once the tears start, you can't stop, and soon you can barely breath for the severity of them, and then you realize that what you're really crying for is you or something that's happened to you or to someone you love. You have to get the grief out before it drains what little joy you have have left. And so man has been getting the grief out in dozens of ways since time began. Seventeenth century English playwright and poet, William Congreve, wrote in his play The Mourning Bride (1697), "Music has charms to soothe the savage breast," (often misquoted as "beast"). God gave men and women the gift of creativity, the ability to make something out of nothing.

We don't understand all the reasons behind God's
beautiful and powerful gift of creativity to mankind,
but all of us know how to use it, and some of us use it extremely well.

Art is wonderful not just because it can be beautiful, but because it can also be terrible. It can mimic life or show us what we want life to be. It isn't meant to just make us feel good and warm and fuzzy. It's meant to make us feel reality it a way a news story can't. A piece of art, painted or photographed or sculpted or crocheted or whatever-else-have-you, can make us smile and laugh and cry and feel disgusted and offended and uncomfortable all at once. And by making us feel bad at the right time, art can do usand our sad, over-taxed soulsa whole lot of good. When we're the artist, creating art helps us to express ourselves and be understood in countless ways. When we're the patron, the spectator, art helps us to feel things like love, hate, pain, freedom, sickness, God's hand in our lives and His perceived absence, and a million other things in just as many ways.

So, here are some of my favorite examples of that God-given gift of creativity in regard to illness, pain and suffering and just plain fun and relaxing. Please enjoy this collection ...in a way. May it inspire you to create and/or purge your soul of grief in your own way and in your own time. For more on chronic illness and art, read my post "The Art of Being in Pain #2." If you have works of art or if you'd like to share your Chronic Illness and Pain story here at MWCI, or have questions you'd like to ask, please email them to momwithchronicillness.org@gmail.com, leave them in the Comments, or message me via the MWCI Facebook Page.

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Music

I'll start with a video I made a few years ago depicting well-known pieces of art from artists including Andrew Wyeth, Frida Kahlo, Pierre Renoir, Edvard Munch, Vincent van Gogh, Sylvia Plath and others: all artists who have suffered from some type of physical and/or mental illness and pain. It is set to Beethoven's famous "Moonlight Sonata." More information on the artists and their afflictions is included in the video. More songs and hymns with will be shared throughout this post.


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Poetry

Poems are literary works in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style and rhythm. It may seem restrictive, but there is something freeing in the constructive way words connect in poetry. Someone once told me you have to learn to color inside the lines before anyone will respect you from coloring outside them. Here is a poem I wrote earlier this year that received praise from my readers, and others' poems about sickness and sadness will be dispersed throughout this post.

I CAN DO THAT SOMETIMES
by Megan Smith

Some Moms can run and play with their children everyday.
I can do that sometimes.

Some Moms are home each night to tuck their kids in bed tight.
I can do that sometimes.

Some Moms bake cookies, play, and make dinner each and every day.
I can do that sometimes.

Some Moms go on long vacations and drive for hours to far off locations,
I can do that sometimes.

Some Moms can take their kids to the park and have a picnic until it gets dark,
I can do that sometimes.

Even though you might wail, some Moms can go to church each week without fail,
I can make it sometimes.

Some Moms don't have weekly doctor appoints to make or piles of medication to take,
but I do sometimes.

Some Moms never have to sleep in a hospital bed when they'd rather be with you instead,
but I do sometimes.

I know it hurts you when I can't play, and it hurts me too,
but sometimes I get very sick. It's not something that I picked.
It's something God gave me to help me learn how Jesus saved me.

So even though I can't always be the Mom I want to be,
I will always be your Mom and you will always be my Baby,
no matter how sick I might get: on that, both our hearts can rest.

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"It Is Well With My Soul"

There are times in our lives that put our faith in God to the test, there's no doubt. Sometimes it feels like our whole life is one big test. Then there are times in other people's lives that all but pulverize it to little bits and pieces. Thank God that all we need is a mustard seed of faith to move mountains (Matthew 17:20), because the story behind the hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul," is awe-inspiring to say the least. It's also so distressing that I wonder how Horatio Spafford, the hymn's author, ever managed to find the strength to pick up a pen and write it's words: "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." (Romans 8:26). And yet with the help of Gold, Spafford wrote a hymn that would cross the myriad of Christian denominations for well over a hundred and twenty-five years and counting and comfort millions of Christians throughout that time with its timeless musical beauty and stunning words stubborn, immovable faith in a loving God despite unimaginable sorrow and gut-wrenching misfortune.

How in the world Spafford didn't lose his faith altogether is a mystery to me,
maybe even a miracle, because I'm afraid had I endured what he did, I would have.

The fact that the hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul," exists where one would think a big black hole of atheism ought to is proof enough for me that God NEVER leaves us alone. It's proof of faith overcoming all Satan can throw at one man, proof of the strength the angels share with us, proof of the love of God overcoming the might of Satan with simple weakness. For the whole story behind this beautiful hymn, visit my post: "When Peace Like a River."


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Finger Painting

Finger painting has no age limit. In fact, it lacks a lot of limits, save keep it off the carpet and the dog or cat, tie your hair back, and wear a really big smock, which makes it extraordinarily Fun with a capital "F" for the whole family, and it includes a rare tactile aspect that is uncommonly soothing to the troubled heart, soul, and body. It might not make you cry, but then again, it might break through a few walls a paint brush can't.



"Umbrella Flowers" by Christy Berry
finger painting
"Gerber Daisy" by Christy Berry
finger painting
"Spiritual Realism" by Dawn Redfairy
finger painting
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Poetry: "Part 1: Life"


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"Signed, Your Mind"
by Emma 

Get dressed, love.
You're going to be late.
You look at yourself in the mirror,
The one you really hate.

Put it down, love.
It's caused you so much pain.
You're going to do damage.
You don't want to be called insane.

Stand up, love.
Your tears make you weak.
Wipe off that black mascara,
Proof of sadness upon your cheek.

Take your pills, love.
You must try your very best.
Forget about your dizzy spells,
The tightening in your chest.

Chin up, love.
No one can know your thoughts.
You must act like you're happy
While your heart just sits and rots.

Smile a little, love.
Let me see those pearly whites.
No one has to know
What you thought about last night.

Breathe for me, love.
Your pain won't be forever.
Take my hand, and I'll take yours.
We'll get through this together.


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Photography

Nothing can be more real. Enough said.


Family Honors Lost Twins
Mother Teresa Holding Baby
Artist Unknown
Landmines in Cambodia
Depression Era Photography by Dorothea Lange
Homeless Child by the Huffington Post
Artist Unknown
Artist Unknown
Artist Unknown
Artist Unknown
Artist Unknown
"The Pain" by Leda


"Pain Killer" by Circusdoggy
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"Blessings"

I've said before that while there's nothing inherently wrong with the "Christian rock" genre of music, it just isn't my style. But sometimes the sandwich of life just needs a little cheese, so here's a tearjerker of a song by Christian singer and songwriter Laura Story, called "Blessings." I was introduced to it by a loving and brave coworker who was not afraid to pray with me in the breakroom years ago, and I've loved the comfort that's found in its truth ever since. It's bound to have your eyes welled up with tears and one of those slightly-painful lumps in your throat before it ends.


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"I Wish, I Dream"
Isabel, age 11

I wish I could stop crying,
I wish I didn't have to try,
On the outside I'm smiling,
But inside I'm dying,
I wish I didn't yell,
I wish I didn't pretend,
I wish I didn't feel crazy,
I wish I didn't always feel stuck,
I wish I didn't feel different,
I wish I could start over,
I wish I didn't feel so worthless,
I wish I didn't feel empty inside,
I wish I could just let go,
I wish I didn't need help,
I dream of a life, though I know I'll never have it.
I wish, I dream.

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"Be Still My Soul"

The lyrics to this hymn were written by Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel (b. 1697) in 1752. The tune was first used in the Finnish national song "FINLANDIA" before it was set to these borderless and timeless words of the cruelty of life and the changelessness of a loving God, and is attributed to the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. It is sung here by a an extraordinary acapella boy's choir called Libera.


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Stained Glass




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"5 Years Old"
by Kristie

What would you do 
in 5 short years? 
Would you make them the most 
or hide from your fears? 
Our little Cory 
chose to live 
Every day with a smile 
and love to give 
Though stricken with cancer 
before he was one 
his journey through life 
had only begun 
No matter how bad 
he might have felt 
He always knew how 
to make your heart melt 
Living life to its fullest 
Each day he Awoke 
He could make you smile 
Every time he spoke 
He filled the room 
with laughter and tears 
And touched many lives 
in his 5 short years 

He had a surprise 
if you took his hand 
then walk you outside 
to his baseball land 
It was the game he loved 
more than anyone you know 
Once his bat in hand 
He'd put on a show 
He would talk of his pets 
if you'd lend him an ear 
or anything else 
you'd take time to hear 
There were no strangers 
to Cory Duane 
He cared for everyone 
no matter their name 
The most amazing child 
for such a young man 
He looked up to his father 
---- His biggest fan 
When he was picked up at school 
he beat all the kids out 
with his arms opened wide 
"That's my Dad" he would shout 

They would wait on his brother 
before going home with Dad 
And spend the whole weekend playing 
with every toy he had 
He would tease his brothers 
in his superman Jammies 
and rock his guitar 
like those at the Grammy's 
Course Nana and Papa 
would often stop by 
to see that their "Precious" 
was doing alright 
At the close of day 
He'd ask "Pat my Butt" 
Knowing you'd take time 
no matter what 
He fought hard to beat 
the disease he had 
And would never complain 
of feeling bad 
It's certainly not fair 
the battle he fought 
All those who knew him 
took in what he taught 
For those who missed out 
on life's smallest lesson 
We're sorry you missed out 
on our biggest blessing 
For someone so young 
his heart was of Gold 
You would never have known 
he was just 5 years old

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Sculpture

Homeless Jesus by Timothy Schmalz



Whatsoever You Do by Timothy Schmalz

I Knew You In the Womb by Timothy Schmalz

A Memorial for Unborn Children by Martin Hudáček


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"Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me?"

Here is a beautifulalbeit shortened—English rendition of the German hymn "Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me?" by Rev. Paul Gerhardt I put together with the lyrics. The music and poetry of this song are both are magnificent. The words were obviously written by a person, in this case Rev. Paul Gerhardt, who was no stranger to cross and trial.


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"I'm A Person Too"
by Dawn

Here I lie in bed again, Awaiting my next meal.
A worker barges in my room, As if it's no big deal.

What ever happened to courtesy? Just a little knock.
Do you think I'm just a vegetable, Laying here like a rock?

What ever happened to manners? I haven't got a clue.

BUT KEEP IN MIND AND DON'T FORGET, THAT I'M A PERSON TOO.

I know I can not talk, Or even joke around.
But I'm well aware of everything, and also every sound.

If you have another worker help, change me during rounds.
Please don't talk about me, as if I'm not around.

Treat me with respect, the same I'd give to you.

KEEP IN MIND AND DON'T FORGET, THAT I'M A PERSON TOO.

My bones are stiff and achy, I hear you say I'm contracted.
My belly hurts, I haven't pooped, I hope I'm not impacted.

I'm sorry I may drool, and at times I even stare.
It's not easy being old, aging isn't fair.

These are the cards God dealt me, There's nothing I can do.

JUST KEEP IN MIND AND DON'T FORGET, THAT I'M A PERSON TOO.

I used to be a lively one, just like your pretty self.
I traveled, married, and worked long hours until I lost my health.

I press my light to see a face, Or just for company.
For someone just to look inside, and realize that I'm ME.

You walked past my light, what am I to do?

PLEASE REMEMBER I'M A PERSON TOO.

I'm sorry that I messed the bed, I feel like such a baby.
I'm so embarrassed, and ashamed, that I'm doing this at eighty.

I'm sorry I couldn't hold it, I didn't know what to do.

KEEP IN MIND AND DON'T FORGET, THAT I'M A PERSON TOO.

I wish that I was able, to communicate some way.
So finally I'd get the chance, to say what I want to say.

I hear you talk with other patients, so please don't walk away.
If everyone showed a little compassion, I wouldn't feel this way.

My name is Helen, and I'm all alone.
Cancer took my husband, he had it in his bones.

We had one child, our precious son.
Until his life was taken by a gun.

So here I am, no family left, as loneliness weighs heavy on my chest.

I may be sad, I may be blue.

PLEASE REMEMBER I'M A PERSON TOO.

Next time my light is on, come and see if I'm OK.
I'm a retired nurse of thirty years, and would love to hear about your day.

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Ancient Hymnody

Let's not forget the music from the days of yore. There are good reasons why these pieces of music have lasted hundreds upon hundreds of years. Equally as beautiful as it is complex, "In Pace In Idipsum" ("In Peace, In True Peace") is a soothing and methodic medieval Latin hymn composed in the 1500s, and it's tranquil acapella harmony will help move your mind into a safer, more Godly place. This rendition was composed by John Sheppard in the 16th century and is performed here by early music ensemble Stile Antico, 2007, in a video I made using photos of stained glass windows from churches all over the world. I also translated the lyrics because we should always know what we are singing. If you enjoy this kind of music, some other composers to check out are Thomas Tallis, Johann Sebastian Bach, William Byrd, Robert White, Hugh Astonwhose 16th century "Gaude, Virgo Mater Christi" ("Rejoice, Virgin Mother of Christ")is posted below. And let's not forget their contemporary brother, Eric Whitacre, whose breathtaking piece "Alleluia" is posted below "In Pace In Idipsum." 








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"A Forgotten Life"
by Linda

She resides in a home, sits in a chair
Nothing to bother her, make her worry or care.
Carers to help her wash and dress
Doing all that they can not to cause her distress.
She smiles and accepts the care that they give
the meals and the medicines she depends on to live.

Her mind should have memories both good and bad
Why can't she remember the life she once had.
Not aware of the people who came to see her today
or what they told her, or how long the stay.

Family and friends she no longer knows
Just a flicker of remembrance occasionally shows.
The memories are gone, now just a blank empty space
Remembering nothing she had before she came to this place.

Is she sad and afraid, she can't let us know
Because these are emotions she's unable to show.
All that's changed is her mind, she is still there
The same person for whom I always will care.
I'll always remember what she means to me
Because she's my mum, who else could she be.

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Glass Blowing

The act of blowing glass is as awesome as the outcome, perhaps even more so.



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"What Cancer Cannot Do"
by Anonymous

Cancer is so limited that:

It cannot cripple love
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot destroy peace
It cannot kill friendship
It cannot suppress memories
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul
It cannot steal eternal life
It cannot conquer the spirit
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"Joy"

Do you ever just get so fed up with the world and all its tragedy that you want to either sob so hard you can't breathe or break something? Or both? I do. Here's "Joy" by the band Page CXVI.



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"The Girl I Used To Be "PTSD""
by Trobers 

Among the cluttered archives of my pondering
Lie the memories of a girl who I used to be,
My eyes alight, 
Radiant as the sun,
But my figure grows dim,
With every breath that's drawn.

The inquiring mind's question lie eternally quiet
My heart's inner strength quietly accrued,
The insistent cruelty claims my will as it's prize,
embedding it's hatred into my deepest confines,
Riddled with conflict, despair, and my recent host.

My identity peals
my former self is now like a ghost.
As I cling to the memories
of what once innocence I had 
a searing pain streams through me
as I mourn.

This girl is pure as rain 
It is now all gone
I resolved, self-assurance
Will, and life all won.

Won by a cruelty too often given on the timid
Teased and criticized, abused by critique
Judgment weighs on my slight frame
The weight of the world... I am to blame
She loves on in spite of her imminent demise
Rendered by those I loved so deeply.
With once my bright eyes

The eyes reflect on this tattered soul
The eyes that grow dim as she will never be whole
Damaged and beaten by life itself
The irony is uncanny
The toll it has taken is so real
This shell keeps going
A outsider she is now
The opposite of a corpse 
She is now the living dead
Why her heart continues beating
or blood flows through her veins
Why she draws in breath
Or why she even has a name...
Is a questioning plea
for someone to reclaim.
The girl I used to bePTSD.


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Drumlines & Dancers

Drumlines, Dance Crews, or anything outstandingly rhythmic, have always been very soothing to me when I'm feeling anxious. So, here are a few of my favorite videos. This list is mostly comprised of snippets from shows like America's Got Talent or Britain's Got Talent. (**If my choices of group seems outdated, that's because they are. We haven't have TV in our house in a looooong time. Please feel free to suggest a few new ones in the Comments or via email to momwithchronicillness.org@gmail.com).