(This piece was first published in the July 2013 issue of Country Wisdom News, in the monthly column “Bread and Roses.”)
“The worker must have bread, but she must have roses too.” This labor slogan is overdue for revival. Let’s spread the word that we’re all entitled–yes, entitled–to have our basic needs met, and more. We need beauty, pleasure, rest, and love. Bread and roses.
It can be hard to hear a call for “roses too” against the background of loud cultural arguments about the “bread” category. Is just any bread good enough, or must the wheat for the bread be grown in healthy soil? If “the worker” came from another country, what is she entitled to? And is access to health care really a basic need?
With so much confusion over bread, it’s no wonder the roses get lost. To move toward a culture that embraces both, we need to live that way ourselves, creating real-life examples of this paradigm. Among our region’s abundant examples are the holistic health care venues in Stone Ridge, Kingston, Woodstock, and Phoenicia. On a monthly or quarterly basis, holistic practitioners and administrative volunteers gather in a community space to provide healing sessions in a wide variety of modalities. Donations and exchanges are welcomed, but no one is turned away.
The Rondout Valley Holistic Health Community hosts Community Holistic Healthcare Days in Stone Ridge; clinics in the other locations are operated by the organization Health Care is a Human Right, under the auspices of Family of Woodstock. These groups go farther than saying that health care is as vital as bread; they demonstrate it.
What’s more, they go beyond the basics. The RVHHC’s vision statement affirms they’ll create “a healing environment of compassion, caring, and beauty.” Nancy Eos, a physician on their organizing council, says, “In our Health Care Days we embody the vibrant health that every client can create for themselves. Every time the healing teams get together, our energies begin to vibrate, to hum together in resonance, and that humming crescendos throughout the event. Then magical things start happening.”
As a client at both organizations’ venues, I’ve experienced that magic. I made several visits as I healed from cancer and treatment, as well as from an unrelated surgery the same year. Every time, simply walking into the environment created by the volunteers was like entering my vision of a future world. There were beauty, music, a warm and joyful welcome, opportunities to take part in fun mini healing sessions while waiting on line. . . . It felt like a party!
Though I barely had money for the gas to get there, the volunteers handed me excellent health care–both the bread and the roses–as if on a silver platter. As though I were absolutely entitled to it. Something deep inside me relaxed and tears came, as I felt a sense of my own worthiness mirrored by others.
This is the kind of health care we need, and our region is taking the lead. What a powerful answer to the call for bread and roses.
Rondout Valley Holistic Health Community
Health Care is a Human Right