A Cup of Conversation – Dec 2015/Jan 2016

Healing is a glimpse of heaven. Those sick, in pain or severely depressed can appreciate the depth of the metaphor. Spiritual life reveals much about what we don’t understand and the joy of heaven is real to those with faith to believe. In this world, however, there is no greater joy than breaching the depths of chronic affliction, not one.

My father always said everything is relative. I think that’s certainly appropriate in the pain context. A couple losing their home and suffering through financial devastation testify to the most soul-wrenching, strength sucking experience ever…right up to the point where the family pediatrician says the cancer word. A contemporary gospel song lyric declares we are all only a phone call away from our knees. Have you ever received a phone call like that? We’re fragile because life is fragile…and brief. We only have so many days.

I see time differently now. Time doesn’t negotiate. No longer are my decisions framed in want or need but rather what is left behind in the absence of regret. Time, health and relationship are precious commodities in life with time the most precious. Health and relationship can be restored but only if there is enough time. Healing is a connective tissue between past and future. Time makes that possible yet some never heal. I lived years sick and battled it every step of the way. Finally accepting healing may never come and asking instead how to live the rest of my life weak, healing came. I’m still sorting through that one.

When we go through seasons of disease (dis-ease), the question always asked is why, often the cruelest of words. We learn from pain to offer wisdom, practical help and empathy to others. This is certainly true for those who journey from great affliction to great healing. Illness and pain are riptides pulling us to deep and dark places we’d never think to go but must for reasons not yet understood. The truth is chronic illness and the darkness to follow can make us emotionally myopic so all we ever see is our own distorted reflection. Life then becomes exclusively about our pain, our need, our misery.

Those who heal seem to find a way to give something back along affliction’s road. This spiritual dynamic crosses all borders as great truths do like the man who fell into a deep, dark hole. Badly hurt and confused, he cried out over and over but no one could help until a stranger heard the cry and leaped down the cavernous hole. The man asked why he would do such a thing and the stranger, busted-up and bleeding from the long fall, said he’d been down here before and knew the way out…let’s go home, follow me. I’m not a follower by nature but I’d follow that kind of love anywhere. I still do.

Today I enjoy walking in wider spaces with sun on my face and strength to burn. I accept life’s fragile balance by taking nothing for granted. A doctor, friend and healer, the wisest and most compassionate of men, told me hope is a powerful healing tonic. I recall sharing this with a complete stranger in terrible, unrelenting pain. With total surrender in his eyes he managed to whisper, “Yes…but you must remember to take it every day…

If you have lost hope, take heart. You’re not alone and there is most certainly a place where pain, fear, death and disease do not exist; a place of sentient, eternal joy far removed from the relentless gravity of this world. In the meanwhile, there is still heavenly healing on earth so pay close attention. Look beyond yourself and choose carefully whom or what you follow because… For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12