Friday, October 08, 2010

Naming Hope

I deal with at least three chronic conditions.  None are fatal, but they can render life rather challenging.

In trying to improve my health, lately I have been researching my diagnoses.  I have discovered that many people seem to become 'diagnosis collectors'.

I think I might have this tendency, so what I say bears no malice whatsoever!

One has to wonder why people become collectors of diagnoses.  I think I may have it.  It has to do with hope.

It seems people believe that if they find just find the right diagnosis, the illness can be cured, or at least successfully treated. 

In the case of some illnesses, of course this is true.  In the case of far too many others it is not.  At least not now.  There are a host of conditions which the medical community has trouble diagnosing, never mind treating.  Two different conditions may be given the same diagnosis, depending on the practitioner, and many conditions seem to show up together.

I think people find it important to be able to put a name to what is bothering them.  I know I do.

Many times in life I've found myself bothered by something persistently, and it's not until I figure out the source that the problem goes away...often almost immediately!  I have sometimes found myself restless and it's not until days later that I realize that I have somehow been reminded of something unpleasant, which is trying to pull itself out of the dark corners of my mind.

I think this is why some of us go after diagnoses.

In Madeleine L'Engle's books (the Wrinkle in Time series.  It's been so long I cannot remember exactly in which this book this occurred) Meg, the protagonist, ends up embracing and naming the Echthroi.  If memory serves, this removes the evil power of the Echthroi.

I am not, of course, advocating embracing evil for any reason, but Meg's action of naming the evil that had been plaguing her family really struck a chord with me. 

For those who are ill, I think the search for a workable diagnosis gives hope.  When you have hope, you have a reason to keep going.  For those who do not have friends and supportive family (and I am discovering how truly blessed I am to have both!) hope may be all they have.


Anne Corwin said...

The book you are thinking of is "A Wind in the Door", which was the second book after "A Wrinkle in Time" and before "A Swiftly Tilting Planet". It was the one where Meg and Calvin, et al. have to visit a mitochondrion in order to stop the farandolae (fantastic creatures that, in the novel, are postulated to be sentient sub-micro-scale organisms living in cells). Probably the oddest book in the series but definitely a favorite of mine.

And re. "embracing evil"...I definitely don't see what Meg did as being like...joining sides with evil or anything. Rather, I saw her action as being more like one intended to demonstrate that she refused to "sink down to the level" of evil by helping it annihilate. Instead, she affirmed the existence of her enemy and in doing so managed to overpower it. Or at least that's how I see it. I read those books many many times growing up and I don't think I will ever get tired of trying to analyze them!

JP said...

Thanks for clearing that up! You've made me want to dig them all out and read them again.

I have read a critique (and I do not recall where) of this book by Michael D. O'brien, an author I respect, where he took great issue with Meg embracing the echthroi. At the time I did not know that their name meant "evil".

I remember thinking at the time that he may have missed the point of what happened. It is so true that when you bring evil out of obscurity, which IS what Meg did, that it removes the power.

Thanks for bringing some of those memories into clearer focus.

I first heard of "Wrinkle" when was in 7th grade. I was in the top reading group and we had some nasty bit of a novel to wade through. The second reading group was reading 'Wrinkle'. I really wanted to be in their group!

Anonymous Catholic Housewife said...

Hi JP,
You read that critique in O'Brien's book, "A Landscape with Dragons". I just read it a few weeks ago and it's in there.
Andrea :)

JP said...

Hi "Anonymous"

I think maybe Mr. O'Brien published it in Nazareth Magazine first.

I say this because I've never read "Landscape With Dragons" (well, not that I recall...) although I've certainly heard about it!

Wow...pieces are coming together!

Thanks for dropping by!