Monday, August 08, 2022

Olivia Newton-John’s Legacy of Healing

Above: Olivia Newton-John, in front of the
Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre
in Melbourne, Australia – 2012.

In my work as a palliative care chaplain, I often invite my patients to consider healing as being bigger than a physical cure, even if at times it can include that. At its heart, healing is about going beyond fear; it’s about discovering and cultivating a peace within that allows us to trust that no matter where our journey takes us, we’re going to be okay. Such a deep and sustaining awareness can be expressed in religious, spiritual, or even secular terms. I follow my patients’ lead on that.

Today's news of the death of Australian singer, actress, and activist Olivia Newton-John from breast cancer is very sad. Olivia had lived with cancer since 1992, and throughout her journey with the disease she was a tireless advocate for breast cancer research. She founded the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute and, in 2008, began raising funds to help build the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre, which opened in Melbourne, Australia in 2012.

And so despite my sadness at the news of her passing, I take heart in knowing that not only will Olivia Newton-John’s music legacy live on, but also the legacy she most wanted to be remembered for, that being, in her words, of “making a difference helping people heal from cancer.”

From everything I’ve been reading today about her life and vast range of accomplishments, that legacy will indeed live on. For in and through both her music and activism, as well as simply through the way she lived her day-to-day life, Olivia Newton-John knew, embodied, and shared healing.

“Help Me to Heal” is from Olivia’s 2010 album, Grace and Gratitude Renewed, containing “over one hour of continuous music for healing, relaxation and meditation.” The album is actually a “revisiting” of Olivia’s 2006 album Grace and Gratitude.

In the liner notes of Grace and Gratitude Renewed, Olivia wrote the following.

Grace and Gratitude was written at a time in my life when I needed some personal healing. I have always turned to music, meditation and prayer to guide me. I believe that healing starts with an attitude of gratitude, and even in my darkest hours I tried to remember all that I have to be grateful for.

In these past four years [2005-2008] the universe heard me and has restored joy, health and love into my life. I awoke to the love of my life, my husband John Easterling, and my seven year journey to launch the ONJ Cancer and Wellness Center in Melbourne, Australia has finally come to fruition.

I have been very touched by the response to the words and music of Grace and Gratitude and have had the privilege of sharing it in concert with many of you since its first release. I am so excited that my new friends at Green Hill and EMI are going to make this music available everywhere. With Grace and Gratitude Renewed, I want to bring some of the happy energy I have been blessed with these past few years, to this revisited collection. I have resung many of the songs, and invited a few dear friends [Mark Masri, Amy Sky and Marc Jordan] to sing with me. My producer, co-writer and dear friend Amy Sky and I were inspired to write a new song, “Help Me to Heal” – I love it and hope you do too. . . . Yours in love and light, Olivia.

Related Off-site Links and Updates:
Olivia Newton-John, Star of Grease and Grammy Award Winning Artist, Dies Aged 73 – Liana Walker (ABC News, August 8, 2022).
Olivia Newton-John Dies at 73 – Gina Vivinetto (Today, August 8, 2022).
Olivia Newton-John Fought Breast Cancer For Three Decades Before Her Death: Her Cancer Story and Advocacy Work – Korin Miller (Women’s Health Magazine, August 9, 2022).
A Woman For All Seasons, Olivia Will Remain Something Specific and Personal to Each of Us – Michael Idato (The Sydney Morning Herald, August 9, 2022).
ABBA Pay Tribute to Olivia Newton-John: “Her Music and Personality Will Always Remain in Memory” – Tom Skinner (NME, August 9, 2022).
The Day Olivia Newton-John Brought Star Power to Olivia, Minnesota – Kent Erdahl (KARE 11 News, August 10, 2022).
Olivia Newton-John to Receive State Memorial Service in Australia – Tara Subramaniam (CNN News, August 11, 2022).
Olivia Newton-John, Judith Durham, and Archie Roach: The Loss and Legacy of Giants in Australian Music – Zan Rowe (ABC News, August 12, 2022).
Olivia Newton-John, a Sexy Nerd For the Rest of Us – Evie Nagy (NPR News, August 14, 2022).
Olivia Newton-John’s Songs See 614% Streaming Bump Following Her Death – Chris Willman (Variety, August 15, 2022).
Olivia Newton-John’s Chart History – YouTube.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Beauty and Challenge of Being Present in the Moment
Cultivating Stillness
A Sacred Pause
Aligning With the Living Light
Mystical Participation
The Source Is Within You
Inner Peace
Spirituality and the Health Care Setting
Interfaith Chaplaincy: Meeting People Where They’re At
From the Palliative/Spiritual Care Bookshelf
Seven Principles for Living with Deep Intention

1 comment:

Adelaide Dupont said...

Thank you for your words about "Healing is beyond fear".

And Olivia Newton-John was such an exemplar and example of that!

I found out she died watching the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony and there was a break in that so I went to other channels like Nine's TODAY.