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Health: issue summary

April 29, 2010

by Susan Elbe and Kelly Madigan Erlandson

We were thrilled to have the opportunity to edit an issue of qarrtsiluni. It was both challenging, in terms of volume and time, and highly rewarding.

Our hope was to focus on and highlight health — both the radiant, full-bodied, energetic variety, and the various ways health is impaired or depleted. We struggled to balance the issue, hoping to equally include pieces that celebrate the joy we experience in health and that explore the grief in our disease and dying. We were continually surprised at how difficult this was, as the majority of submissions we received focused on ill health.

We wondered why the focus seemed more on our dis-ease than on our vibrancy. Is it that we use writing to, as Gregory Orr says, “(sing) the pain back into the wound?”

Gregg Levoy, in his book Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life, says that writing is really only the mode of transport. “The true calling is whatever we hope to draw to us through our art, what we want it to bring to us.” Perhaps all this writing about our dis-ease is meant to bring wholeness to us.

On the other hand, the visual art we received was much more focused on the positive aspects of health. There were many photographs, paintings, and mixed-media pieces full of harmony and joy.

We have no answers, only more questions. Art in all its forms holds much mystery.

We thank all of you who submitted. It was an honor and a pleasure to be allowed into your aching hearts, your quirky minds, and your love of life and this Earth.


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For bios of Susan and Kelly, see the Call for Submissions post.