Monday, June 9, 2008
This past Sunday's gospel lectionary reading in Matthew told the stories of Jairus' daughter and the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years who reached out at touched the fringe on Jesus' clothes. Here in the land of CPE, I have been thinking alot about touch and healing. In one room there is a man who is experiencing a failing liver and is inelegible for a transplant. Lots of other things are going wrong as the liver fails. I am sure he would love to stand in for the woman. Deeply spiritual, he and his wife believe in earnest that a healing by God could occur. I doubt it will, and some of this is denial, but yet I am sure that those who saw that unclean and probably pretty unseemly woman grovel to touch the fringe, thought it was equally incongruous. And I am certain that value judgements about her sin that brought on this affliction were even more rampant than the thoughts of today about someone who admits to living a wild life in the past. Then there is the woman with cerebral palsy. In the hospital because at her age and with her condition, she is pushing the extremes of life expectancy. Each time in the hospital is closer to assisted care, rather than the apartment on her own where Mom checks in to see how she is. She was praying simply for this crisis to end. And it passed. I came in as she had heard things were improving. And this woman for whom life is not only a challenge, but a compromise, is determined to get out, go home and keep praising God. She loves to sing, she shared her music. A little garbled for most, but to God I am sure it was just as ethereal as any heavenly choir. We shared a prayer, and before I began, I asked if we could hold hands. Her hands have some mobility, not a lot. She was so joyful that I would hold her hands to pray. I did not think twice about asking. But later a peer stated that her joy was the fact that I was not put off by her disability, that I embraced her as she was. Healing touch for the soul. There was the elderly woman with emphysema. Outgoing and engaged, trapped in a body that is letting her down. Sitting with her oxygen she is trapped, yet leaning into our chat. She is feeling good today, she put on her lipstick, a touch that gives her dignity. As we get ready to pray, I ask her if she wished to hold hands. I thought she would leap out of the chair with enthusiasm. Touch is a connection- touch draws her in. Touch for her was a tight sqeeze of my hands- I am still vital. Healing touch.
And today a terminally ill patient- what cancer has not taken, this weekend's stroke did. He cannot talk. He is stuck. Yet when I stopped in to say hello and offer a prayer, he grabbed my hand before I asked at his bedside. Touch cannot heal his body, but perhaps it touched him. God knows.
"If I can just touch the fringe."
I was asked how we know God is present or speaking.When I held the hand of an anxious spouse and prayed,"Lord you know what is on our hearts and minds, our struggles. Grant us peace" the hand relaxed with an audible sigh." When you prayed that I felt angels enter the room," she says. Healing touch. A touch I cannot offer on my own, but by the power of the Spirit, a healing of a soul, for now, just the same. I am overwhelmed.