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Scribing the Soul
March 2001

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Kathleen's Current Column

by Kathleen Adams, LPC, RPT

In ancient times, scribes were devotees of the Word. They were the bridges between worlds, charged with the sacred task of painstakingly transcribing the Mysteries into a form that could be referenced by holy men and women. Many centuries later, our modern journals give us unlimited access to the Mysteries of our souls. Through this column, I hope to offer ways that we can approach our own lives with the love and devotion of the scribes of old.

Healing Words, Healing Touch: Jihan's Story

My first hint that there was something seriously wrong came on a Post-It note.

"I wrote these after writing group," Jihan scribbled. "Thoughts?"

"These" were about 20 short poems, typed neatly in two columns over three pages, all using the word BREAST as an organizing theme. Individually, they were small jewels of expression. Collectively, they told a troubled story of a woman deeply concerned. Jihan Matteson, 58, had been an active member of my Monday afternoon journal therapy group for over a year when she wrote these poems. Already a survivor of breast cancer, she had used the writing group to map out the unfamiliar terrain of life after recovery. What she kept hearing in her writing was the maddening instruction to sit still. And in the stillness, increasingly, she received messages that all was not well with her breast.

As the poems and writings bubbled up from a place deep within, Jihan sought opinions and answers. She began with her colleagues and friends at Foothills Healing Arts Center, where she worked as an administrator. Some of the finest, most progressive healers practicing today are found at Foothills Healing Arts Center in Lakewood, Colorado, which houses the headquarters of both the Healing Touch movement and The Center for Journal Therapy. Before long, Jihan had grim news: Her cancer was back, virulent and nasty. As referral led to referral, she landed at University Hospital with a leading research oncologist, who diagnosed her with Stage 4 cancer, metastacized to the liver.

Where does one turn, but to family, friends and faith? Jihan wrote an e-mail to her dearest childhood friend, Mary. Mary wrote back. Jihan wrote again, this time copying her daughter and son. Mary's daily e-mails of support and strength became a lifeline for her. Exhausting as it was to try and keep her far-flung family apprised of her constantly changing medical situation, Jihan added more names to the "cc" field of her e-mail. She forwarded me one of her missives one day, and I wrote back. "Sounds like you're writing an e-mail journal," I said. "Can I be on the list?" The Monday afternoon group clamored for inclusion. So did others in her extended family. Before long, there were 20 or more who received daily updates on her treatment, as well as a window into her moods, thoughts, emotions, needs and daily life.

We shared in Jihan's deepest internal discourse about the meaning of life and the reality of death. We were treated to delightful portraits of her baby granddaughter, Bella, as she grew from infancy to toddlerhood. As silent witnesses, we suffered the agony and devastation of chemotherapy and its aftermath. Nearly every day, sometimes more than once, we received e-mails chronicling Jihan's struggle, strength and indominable spirit.

Immediately upon diagnosis, Jihan began to receive intensive energetic healing work from Janet Mentgen, founder of Healing Touch, and Anne Day, one of Janet's most active trainers. She also began a parallel treatment with Reiki Master Doug Gibbs. Each time Jihan received a treatment of Healing Touch or Reiki, she wrote an e-mail journal entry about it, describing not only her own internal response to the treatment but also the practitioner's insights, instructions and procedures. As a journal therapist, I was elated to read this dual perspective, as I know that writing in detail about a healing experience does wonders to anchor it into the body at a cellular level. Jihan's capacity to integrate and synthesize in writing her healing experiences -- Healing Touch, Reiki, chemotherapy, love of family and friends, spiritual direction, nutrition -- offered to an audience of concerned and compassionate Others who were willing to simply witness and receive without judgment or argument, played a pivotal role in her healing process.

Eight months later, after completion of her first round of chemotherapy, and after weekly Healing Touch and Reiki sessions and hundreds of e-mail journal entries, Jihan's MRIs showed…… no trace of cancer in her liver or her breast. Her oncologist is frankly amazed. So, for that matter, are the rest of us, although we gladly embrace the opportunity to adjust to good news.

The treatment, and the healing, continues. Jihan is now on a second, much less disruptive, chemotherapy protocol. Her weekly Healing Touch sessions continue, as does weekly Reiki, as do near-daily e-mail journal entries. Her family and friends still offer abiding love and support. Her laughter is back, as is her hair. Her granddaughter Bella has celebrated her first birthday, mastered walking, and begun speaking English. Jihan lives in a state of deep gratitude and peace. And standing as permanent testament and chronicle of this extraordinary year is a manuscript-length journal of grace and grit, surrender and serenity, courage and challenge, healing words and Healing Touch. May it be so. Amen.

© 2001 Kathleen Adams. All rights reserved. 


Kathleen Adams LPC, RPT is a Registered Poetry/Journal Therapist and Director of The Center for Journal Therapy in Lakewood, Colorado. She is one of the leading voices on the power of writing to heal and is the author of four books, including Journal to the Self and The Write Way to Wellness. Her upcoming seminars include the annual 5-day women’s writing retreat in Colorado July 8-13, and a one-day Journal to the Self workshop in Denver in late July. She would love your feedback on this column; please e-mail kay@journaltherapy.com or stop by her website, www.journaltherapy.com.


Read Kathleen's Past "Scribing the Soul" Columns:

February 2001 "Love Letters"

January 2001 "Scribing the Authentic Self"

December 2000 "Riding the Inky Wave"

November 2000 "The Good News"

October 2000 "Soul Food: Exploring Affirmations in Writing"

September 2000 "Diary of a Headache"

August 2000 "Making Up the Truth"

July 2000 "Pockets of Joy"

June 2000 "Five Ways to Scribe Your Intuition"


Read Kathleen's Feature Article on Dream Journals:

Writing in the Dark: Cracking the Soul's Code Through Dream Journals



Visit Kathleen at her Website:



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