Houses and Healing

ImageI have heard spiritual teachers speak about how one’s outer landscape is often a reflection of one’s interior.  For the last two months, this has been true for me in more ways than I care to admit.  Just as I really committed to pursuing the pain in my lower right pelvis, my husband and I committed to fixing up our bathroom.  At a first read, this might seem simple enough.  It’s such a small room.  It will merely be an inconvenience.  We’re only going to paint.  But for anyone who has traveled down the rabbit hole of home improvement projects, you know that it often takes longer than you think; looks worse before it gets better; and often entails disruption to “normal.”  In our case, a home with only one bathroom meant coming home from church one Sunday to find the toilet in our bedroom…but I digress.

When we started the bathroom, I was pretty certain we were diving down one of the home improvement rabbit holes.  What I didn’t know is that pursuing health and healing via modern medicine is eerily similar.  From the testing, to the diagnosing, to the asking and re-asking the process is not clear or straightforward.  In some ways, I feel like this process was like peeling up the floor…just how many layers are there?  What damage has been happening unseen?  For how long?

As I prepare for surgery tomorrow, I suspect that I might indeed “look worse” before I look better.  Who really does look good in a blue gown with a morphine glaze smile?  I suspect no one.  Just like our bathroom, I expect this healing journey is one that will be messier before it’s over.  My prayer is that I can trust this process like I did with the house project.  And at the very least that I find gratitude in the toilet being back in its home.

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Sunday Prayer

Great Physician,

We read stories of miraculous cures

And ancient healings

By Your hand.

How easy it can be for us to ask

Why them and not us?

How easy it can be to turn to you

On a Sunday morning

With wish list prayers.

Great Physician

Here are our ailments;

Now what medicine do you prescribe?

Perhaps it is we who like to ignore

The prescriptions You suggest.

For what you offer often

Defies our logic

Unsettles our certainty

And is provided as a simple suggestion.

That is how you respond

In suggestions and whispers

Hunches and nudges.

Great Physician

Open our eyes and ears

To notice You around us.

Free us from the confines

of our own hearts and minds.

That we too may be filled with gratitude

And sing Your praise.

A Prayer for the 11th Leper

Holy Physician,

I don’t understand your healing ways.

You encounter 10 lepers.

The sound of Your voice

Moves the molecules of their beings

And mid-walk

They all become

Completely clean.

What about the 11th leper?

And the 12th

And the 13th

And all the other lepers

Not mentioned in this story?

What about the many faithful

Who fall prostrate before You

But whose bodies seem

Immune to Your voice?

Do you stay silent?

Or randomly speak?

This wellness You offer,

This salvation You bestow

Breaks the boundaries

Of medical science, I know.

But some days

And some times

This answer seems like

A politically correct pill

To swallow.

Amen.

You’re Healed!

Can you see Benny Hinn?  You know the healer on TV.  The one that walks through the crowds, whacking people on the head, declaring “You’re Healed!”

I have to confess I sometimes pause to watch these clips and make snarky remarks–either to the folks I’m watching with or just in my own head.  Who’d pay money to get whacked on the head?  Who’d expect healing from that?

And yet in this week’s gospel passage we see not one but two healings.  As a pastor I find it much easier to grapple with the doubts of Thomas or the disbelief of Nicodemus than a passage like this.  Goodness, I’d even rather tackle the passage about Herodias (stay tuned for that one later this summer!)  In addition to my Gen X skeptic-self, I have to say I find these stories of miracle healings a little dangerous.  Perhaps that’s what makes them miraculous, but I digress.

You see, in the world of theology, we can be known to differentiate healing from cure.  Healing is finding a deeper sense of peace and oneness and does not always result in a physical cure.  Except that doesn’t work with this passage.  The woman with the hemorrhage stops bleeding after 12 years.  That seems like a cure to me.  Jairus’s daughter rises from death.  Again, this seems awfully cure-like.  Miracle cures attributed to faith.  Jesus even says to the woman with the hemorrhage–“Your faith has made you well.”

I don’t know about you, but this seems to dance at a fine line.  Faith and healing.  Faith and curing.  Faith and fixing.  Can’t you just hear the if onlys, the shoulda, woulda, couldas?  I don’t know about any of you, but I have known good, faithful people whose miracle cure didn’t look anything like what they would have hoped…and I’ve known people who weren’t so good or faithful whose miracle cure seemed made to order…and I’ve known people people whose miracle cure looked kinda like what they prayed for but the reality was no so miraculous.  Seems to me when we try to analyze, categorize, mathematicize God’s work in the world, we can get ourselves into trouble.