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A Special Grace Note About Artful Children

I was watching the news late one night, and what I saw and heard changed me. No, it was not a report on wars, national debt, natural disasters, or famous politicians or celebrities. It was an interview with a 14-year-old young lady, named Emily, who is a patient in Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth.  In 2006, Emily was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. The key symptom of the disease is pain--pain that often does not respond to pain relief medication, as is the case in Emily's situation.  

In the interview you can see here, Emily  describes what it is like to take just five steps. And then the pain is too much and she has to lie or sit down again. On a scale of 1 to 10, she says her "low" score is a 7, with her pain level often reaching a 9, not just when she walks, but all the time. Her voice is calm. She is poised and talks with the interviewer with ease--as she draws.  Emily participates in Cook Children's From the heART Program

From the heART is a creative Artist in Residence Program, which began in early 2006, and was established to give patients the freedom to explore who they are and how they feel through creative expression.  Shannon Jones is the program's director.

Emily also shares, on camera, that making art is a healing distraction for her. It takes her mind away from the pain for a while at least.  

Chris Hawes
As I watched the rest of this excellent story by Chris Hawes of WFAA TV, I was struck by the tremendous healing power of art, and of its capacity to create joy even in the midst of illness. In fact, take a look at the vibrant, fun, and beautiful art works by some of these patients at Cook Children's Hospital at the From the heArt Store.  What stands out is the joy.  

Emily pictures herself walking with a cane, smiling and under a rainbow. I can't fully describe how this young woman's words, attitude, and courage continue to come to mind long after the news story aired.  In some recent bad moments, I have thought of her:  poised, smiling, and in irremediable pain.  She helps me remember something I discovered years ago, reading the Yoga Sutras, which include this saying:  "All is painful to the discriminating."  

I have learned through experience, through the grace of God and the kindness and wisdom of others  that it is also possible for one to find joy always, even in the midst of pain.  It is possible for "All to be joyful to the discriminating."

Congrats to Chris Hawes on a beautifully done news report. Blessings to Emily and all the children at Cook's, who are dealing with one of life's great thieves:  illness. 

I hope you will take a moment to watch the video and that it will remind you to find, as these children fighting great odds have found--joy--joy in all circumstances.

P.S. I bought Emily's Happy pin and Jovani's Cat Drawing Mouse Pad--very high quality, fast shipping, and I love them both. The store will ship outside the U.S.   


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