By Siri Chand Kaur, CFNP
I’m a nurse practitioner in Espanola, New Mexico. I was asked to write a post about women as leaders and healers in this world and, most of the time, I don’t feel like I am one.
However, when I took the time to think a bit more deeply about what the work of healing really means to me, I started to see that not only am I a healer, so are my patients, and so are you.
I think of healing as restoration of health, eradication of illness, the ability to make something better. By default my profession implies that I’m a healer, however, when I think about my day to day practice—diagnosing illnesses, ordering x-rays and MRIs, and writing prescriptions—I don’t feel like I do a lot of “healing.”
Many of my patients suffer from multiple chronic illnesses and live in social contexts marked by poverty, violence, trauma and addiction—the things that cause dis-ease in their lives are things that I can’t fix or even make better. As a result, I very rarely think of myself as a “healer.” It’s just not an identity that feels very comfortable to me. However, when I look at healing and being a healer, through a different lens I can actually start to see and accept myself as one of the many people in this world doing healing work.
Viewed from this lens, healing is not about making something better or about me “fixing” my patients, their illnesses, or their unique challenges in life. Instead, it’s about the moments of connection where I step out of my role as health care provider, and they step out of their role as patient, and we greet each other as one human being to another. These moments open up the space for the mutual recognition that they have just as much expertise as I do, and bring just as much to the table as I do, and have just as many resources to aid their journey from dis-ease to wellness as I do. It’s in this space that true transformation can occur. And the transformation is not one way. It transforms me and teaches me just as much—if not more—than it teaches and transforms them.
I write about this space of transformation as something that occurs between me and my patients, largely because this is where I experience it most often and most poignantly. But it’s a process that we all have the opportunity and ability to experience in our daily lives. I would argue that any time we are interacting across difference—whether it’s difference in socioeconomic status, religion, race, gender, or the other multitude of differences among us—we have the opportunity to reach across this difference to find similarity, and from that grow connection and unity.
But this doesn’t happen spontaneously (most of the time anyways). It takes work. It takes being willing to open oneself to the other; to be willing to be seen—truly seen, as the imperfect, fallible beings that we are and to want to move towards connection despite our own vulnerability and often, ignorance. It takes courage to step out of our comfort zones and the willingness to stay there. It takes patience and time to get to know one another, to build relationships, to forge ties in places where they’re least expected. And it takes fortitude to stick with it and with each other, especially when it gets hard and uncomfortable and sticky. These are the moments that offer the biggest opportunity for us to grow, to change, and to truly heal the unseen wounds lurking in all of us.
Right now we are in a moment in history where our differences are being used to divide us, wound us, break us. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can choose to create communities that are stronger and healthier not in spite of our differences, but because of our differences. To make this choice we have to take action. We have to educate ourselves about the world around us. We have to seek out difference and learn how to see it, embrace it and cherish it. We have to be willing to do the work that it takes to truly see God in all. In my view, this is the sacred work of our age. As people of light and love we need to be willing to take the risk to choose connection over division.
As a health care provider, a Sikh, a daughter, a friend, and a partner, I pledge to continue to work to bridge difference and challenge myself to examine the ways that I can learn and grow to facilitate the process. And, I put out the call to all of you to join me in this work. I offer my support to you on this journey in whatever way I can be useful to you on your journey to connection. Please let me know and I’m sure that I could use some support as well. We need to work together to grow, to transform, and to heal.
In communion we will find strength and in unity we will find divinity. Light to all, love to all, peace to all.
Siri Chand Kaur Khalsa is a nurse practitioner working in a primary care family practice in Espanola, New Mexico. She is also an KRI certified Kundalini Yoga teacher. Her focus is on serving the Espanola community through providing quality, comprehensive health care to those most in need. Siri Chand Kaur is passionate about social justice and recently started working with a group of individuals (We Are Indivisible - Espanola https://www.facebook.com/groups/964044920366281/) within the Espanola community to promote a progressive political agenda both locally and nationally. In her free time she loves to mountain bike, hike and spend time with friends and family.