Healers today are acting as facilitators to encourage people to become healers in their own right, both for themselves and other people. Many students I have trained are now training other students in the United States and Europe. More and more people come into my office looking to learn how to awaken the healer within them. They come to experience healing, and to integrate it into their lives through laying-on-of-hands, healing imagery, meditation, prayer, dreamwork, forgiveness, counseling and love. They want to understand the roles that emotions, beliefs, thoughts, and unresolved relationships play in their health. They take active roles as self healers, making peace with their past, coming to terms with the present, and making healthier choices for the future. They are open to developing a relationship with God or a Higher Power that will allow them to make healing a lifelong process. Once called a “patient,” or someone who passively endures suffering, the student of healing has changed from being a passive receiver of energy to an active participant in the healing process. The healer has become a guide, facilitator, counselor, and teacher along the path of healing.
We all hope in many ways for many things. We hope for love, health, prosperity. We hope for good lives for our children and family members. We hope for an end to war so we can live on a peaceful planet. And when loved ones become ill, we hope for their return to health.
Sometimes the medical profession tells us not to hold out “false hope” for someone’s recovery, but we do anyway. Because we all know that there is no such thing as false hope. There is only hope. Sometimes hope turns into denial if it holds on in the face of change. Denial is painful. If someone is dying, denial can cause anger and disconnection from the person who is ill, or desperate anxiety in an attempt to save the person. Acceptance can lead to love, forgiveness and comfort that lasts long after the person is gone.
So maybe hope and acceptance walk hand in hand through our lives. We hope and we accept. We may hope for one result and have to accept another. We may hope for healing and feel grateful when healing occurs. We can accept the outcome, whether it is joyful or painful. Hope and acceptance keep us alive and in touch with our hearts, in touch with Love.
I hear you breathing
soft and still or loud and strong
you live next to me
accept what you can
redemption is far away
love is here tonight
tonight is the time
to hope for tomorrow’s light
to clear heaven’s path
raining harder now
washing away our past sins
fresh will be the air
let go of today
let us wait for tomorrow
to heal our sorrow
I write while you dream
of rainbows in the dark sky
that shine light on love
haiku and healing
the power of poetry
to heal the deep soul
Recently a friend of mine, who I hadn’t seen in thirty years, invited me to meet him for lunch in Manhattan. He had been traveling, rarely came to New York, and suggested we get together and compare notes on our spiritual journeys. It’s a long drive from Woodstock to the City, and I hadn’t done it alone in years. My anticipation felt unfamiliar to me, since I had grown up across the Hudson River in Bergen County, New Jersey, and spent every weekend as a child driving in with my parents to visit my grandmother and aunt. After college and living in Europe for a year and a half, I settled in Manhattan, went to Columbia for a postgraduate premed program, and eventually wound up living there full-time on the Upper West Side with a job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. My life was driving in and out of New York, up and down the avenues, crosstown, through the Park, taking subways and buses. I felt as though I knew the City like my hometown. Now, after years of living in Connecticut and Upstate New York, I felt trepidation at traveling to the Big Apple. How had it changed? How had I changed? Would it be too different for me to recognize or find my way around?
I bundled up my courage and set off on a new old adventure, with Google maps and advice from a friend on where to park. The traffic was, as it used to be, a bit chaotic and unnerving. But I made it to my destination almost on time, with my friend a bit worried and ready to call my cell phone. It was good to see him again, although after thirty years we both look a bit worse for wear. I admired the apartment he was staying in, asked him about his long trip abroad, and attempted to answer questions about my spiritual journey as a healer and pastoral counselor, teacher and author. He told me how he remembered me from college, apologized about forgetting our meeting in California years later, and expanded on his dedication to his own spiritual path of meditation, leading retreats and writing.
My friend introduced the topic of life after death. He noted how many books have been published in the past few years discussing people’s experiences of dying and what happened in their consciousness while they were “on the other side.” He had read a book by a neurosurgeon that moved him, and suggested that I read it. I had been aware of many of these books over the past thirty years, and remembered reading one of them when I was ten years old. I can still remember sitting in the back yard and reading with fascination the story of a woman who remembered another lifetime while under hypnosis. Are we now at the age, I considered, when thinking about death is more interesting than thinking about life?
After lunch overlooking Central Park, he asked me how I had managed to keep going. At one point he stated, with a sweep of his hand, “I’m done.” You’re done? No more books? Retreats? Travel? No, he said. He just wanted to receive back some of all he had given out to others for the past thirty years. I knew what he meant. When I first moved from Litchfield, CT to Woodstock, NY, I took a tiny cottage on an island by a stream near a waterfall. I put all my things in storage and moved in with nothing but a few suitcases and my cats. The first time I sat down on the floor in front of a few candles and my statue of Buddha, I closed my eyes and realized that I never wanted to get up again. It was a profound moment of truth. I was done. I was spent, exhausted, at the end of something without knowing if there was a beginning to anything else.
Not knowing, once you’ve known, is very hard. I had known all though my life what my next step would be. I had confidence in myself and my purpose in life. I had traveled the roads that took me to places I wanted to visit, experiences I wanted to have, and people I wanted to meet. I achieved a great deal, although not all that I imagined, and found myself coming to another place. A place unfamiliar. I remember the end of the movie Resurrection with Ellen Burstyn. She played a woman who developed healing abilities after being in a terrible car crash that killed her husband. Her new healing abilities did not set well with many people in town, since she wouldn’t claim any particular set of beliefs. She kept talking about healing as Love. After dealing with people who tried to stop her, people who challenged the good she did, and struggles to help and heal people, she retreated to the desert and a small garden in back of a roadside gas station. The dramatic shift in the movie jarred me. I can remember the feeling to this day. What just happened? One minute she was helping people and the next scene was an RV rolling down a road in the middle of the desert. In the final scene, the RV stops to get gas and Ellen Burstyn comes out. She sees that the little boy is gravely ill and asks if she can give him a hug. As she does, her face becomes radiant with love, compassion, light. We are left wondering if he will be healed. And if she will, as well. No fanfare. No special purpose to save the world. Just living life with love and kindness. Just living life while knowing that the only certainty is death, and maybe, just maybe, an afterlife. After living a life already full of love and kindness, maybe heaven will be quite recognizable.