Tincture of Time

My father passed when I was a young man. There are so many things I miss about him. Long conversations about anything and everything. His sharing of a Scientific American magazine article, circa 1966, predicting the use of laser light to transmit information over vast distances. Stories about his grandparents' hospitality in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley during the late 1800's. How their home was open all night long to travelers passing through, and how they'd never know how many folks would be at their breakfast table in the morning. I loved his stories and miss hearing him recount family history. But what I miss most is hearing his nuggets of profound wisdom that put life's challenges into perspective. So today, I'm giving voice to one that has given me peace time and again throughout my life. One I am using this very moment as I navigate through a huge life transition.

Doctors graduating during World War II had two choices - Army or Navy. My dad chose Army and that led him to my mother. During his service, he was hospitalized for a respiratory infection. My mom was his floor nurse. As he loved to tell it, he liked her back rubs so much that he married her to claim them for life. We all agreed - he made an amazing choice. After the war, he settled into private solo practice as a general practitioner and surgeon.

With both parents in medicine, dinner conversation often veered in that direction as we shared the highlights from our day. Needless to say, my dad had the best stories. Some were gross (I didn't know a leg could bend that way!). Some were humorous (how, exactly, does one get an S&H Green Stamp stuck to your bare bottom?). And some were spell-binding (Wow! An amputation at the bottom of a corn silo!). We talked about everything. I feel like I got a virtual medical degree. I put a lot of this into practice raising a family. Lucky for them, the surgery was mostly limited to removing splinters. But there is one treatment my father taught me above all others that has been extraordinarily useful - no treatment at all.

My father knew the limitations of modern medicine. And he knew the amazing healing power of the body - the wisdom held in cells to repair and regenerate themselves. He also knew that a cure is sometimes much worse than the disease. That "no treatment" can sometimes yield a better result than intervention. He coined this approach, "the tincture of time." And he didn't limit its application to physical healing. He used it in the context of all pain and suffering. It is a beautiful analogy, and one he administered to me many times to ease my pain from bumps and bruises and life's trials.

Tinctures have been applied to wounds for thousands of years. And so it is with the tincture of time. Like some medical conditions, many life issues are best left untouched. They simply need time to pass. To pass in incremental, small doses. Time to reflect. Time to heal. Time to arrive at a place of peace and understanding or simply acceptance. "Son, you just need the tincture of time. You'll be better before you're married." Oh, I can hear his sweet voice now. See his smile. Feel his gentle touch.

Take a moment now to pause and be still. Take a slow, deep breath. Sit back and relax. What is making you anxious? What is stealing your peace? Can you imagine what this looks like a year from now? 5 years? 10 years? 50 years? Is there a glimmer of hope that the passage of time will bring relief? Hold on to that. Deal with what you must in the present, but rest in the peace that the tincture of time has an amazingly good track record of salving wounds. This too shall pass.