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Dear Teacher

Reach out for what you need

By Carolyn Pogue

Dear Teacher,

Thank you for demonstrating persistence, courage, belief in your own worth. We have your story although we do not have your name — only "The Woman who Bled for Twelve Years." 

Was it metaphorical or literal blood that leaked from you, causing people to shun, dismiss and denigrate you? Was it a bad relationship, a death, low self-esteem, guilt or a social teaching? Had you started cutting yourself to try to let the pain seep out? 

In your story, we read that you hired many doctors, but they failed to heal you. In the end, you searched out the rabbi who healed with stories and touch. You must have been desperate or on the edge of lunacy to wade into that thick crowd around him. But perhaps you were filled with a sudden certainty that you were worth it? For the love of your own self, you wedged your way into the throng and reached for what you needed. If we went through the portal of your story, could we also reach out to claim what we need?

Your healing was instant; you felt it vibrate through your body; Jesus felt it, too. "Who touched me?" When you answered, he blessed you. In a nutshell then: You reached out. You were healed. You were blessed. 

I look for others who have reached out. Viola Davis Desmond (1914-1965) comes to mind; thank God we know her name. Perhaps you've met her over where you are now?

Desmond, a businesswoman and teacher, is finally being recognized in Canada today. Canadians will know her face and her story this year when she, like our queen, appears on our paper money. Don't you love that? I suppose her bleeding was the same as others who face racism. 

A decade before Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus in Alabama, Desmond refused to move to a theatre balcony reserved for black people in Nova Scotia. They were both jailed and went to court to fight paying the fine. Her healing came from her courage, as did yours. That kind of courage is infectious if we keep telling these stories.

Dear Teacher, what happened after you were healed? Did you go on a house-to-house speaking tour, encouraging others to be strong? We've done that in the recent past; I think we need to do it again. 

I see all kinds of people bleeding away their power, leaving them feeling weak and disoriented. I see young men unsure of what power is. Young women speak of feeling guilty. About what, I ask? The answers are vague, and their eyes drift away like they are searching for the answer on the floor or in the sky. We all feel overwhelmed by what we think is asked of us: work, child care, meals, family and community needs, as well as balanced relationships. Sometimes, it's hard to name the exact problem. That's why stories are so necessary. Reach, reach for what you need, I say. And if you ask, I will stand beside you.

Dear Teacher, did someone stand with you when you finally reached out? A mother, sister, friend, brother, father or partner? And when you finally stood up straight, did they pour a lovely cup of tea or wine and toast you?

I believe that I'll toast you and Viola right now.

Thank you!

Much love,


This is the fourth in Carolyn Pogue’s “Letter to a Spiritual Ancestor” series.

Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a Calgary author and longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
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