"...Do you wonder
As you watch my face
If a wiser one, should have had my place
But I offer-all I am
For the mercy-of your plan
Help me be strong
Help me be
Breath of Heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of Heaven..."
- Amy Grant
As we move into this Christmas season, it just seems so important to keep in mind what we are really celebrating, and how relevant it is in our lives today. To celebrate the birth of a baby in a manger, without an appreciation for his mother's journey towards that manger...and where it would lead us all...would be heartbreaking to me.
"Breath of Heaven," was written by Amy Grant, but the version sung by Sara Groves, tears me apart. The clip in the first link is Amy's performance and the video sticks to the nativity story, but the second video, paired with Sara's extraordinary recording, although a bit rough and dramatic, underscores the human passion and pathos of the larger story. Both are moving. I love them each for different reasons. I do think that Sara's vocals are as hauntingly beautiful in this context, as Barber's Adagio for Strings is in the context of the crucifixion...but that's another post.
I had been listening to these recordings before church tonight, and after the service, I was talking with a friend about our work as spiritual healers...care-givers, practitioners, nurses, hymn singers, writers, painters, and prophets...those who hope to bless the human family with "crumbs of comfort from Christ's table, be it with song, sermon, or science." And I realized, that every day, in our own way, we live this story. We are surprised by the humble privilege of this holy work. We know that we never could have chosen this path for ourselves, but are gratitude-sent into a life of service to our Father-Mother God by a holy calling.
I don't know one spiritual healer who thinks he, or she, is "all that." Not one that enters this work through the portal of pride, self-certainty, or ambition. It is a deep hunger to serve Him that sings through our hearts. And the lovely, humbling truth is, that we know, with all our being, that anyone, and everyone, can do this work. The fullness of love required to see the Christ in another, is deeply rooted in every man, woman and child. Devoting our lives to this work, we, like Mary and Joseph, sleep with angels who whisper a calling, and a promise, in the dark. And upon awakening, we must be willing, every day, to open ourselves to the birth of something fresh, unexpected, and deeply moving within our hearts. We are asked by our divine Employer to surrender the body of our lives to His purpose for us.
Like that young couple, we walk through the desert of human hopes (usually our own), to find that there is little room for us in the busy-ness of a "world as cold as ice," a village that measures worth by the hierarchy of accomplishment, accumulation, and acclaim. We turn from its beckoning doorway and search out the silent welcome of a manger, and in its humble, simple, stillness something new, and healing, and transformative is born in us. Angels hover and kings kneel before this babe of Christian healing. And we are amazed that we are there...among wise men and shepherds...to witness the advent of His gift "on earth peace, good will to men," and the gospel message of, "The kingdom of heaven is within you."
This happens over and over again in the life of a spiritual healer...every spiritual healer. Our work demands a manger...not a busy inn, a charming bed & breakfast, or a sophisticated hotel. Our music is the simple song of angels...hymns, gospels, lullabies, rather than an exclusive black-tie performance. Our companions are publicans and sinners. Our highest vantage point is not found in looking out from a throne, a pedestal, or a penthouse...but the lonely summit of a cross. We are most grounded and stable when we are on our knees...washing feet, praying, looking up into the eyes and hearts of our neighbors, not down at them. We rest most peacefully surrounded by lambs and doves, straw and starlight. We are manger dwellers.
On the final page of her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection, at the end of the chapter, "Waymarks," poet, speaker, reformer, teacher, discoverer, founder of Christian Science, and most importantly, spiritual healer, Mary Baker Eddy concludes,
"In this period and the forthcoming centuries, watered by dews of divine Science, this "tree of life" will blossom into greater freedom, and its leaves will be "for the healing of the nations."
Ask God to give thee skill
In comfort's art:
That thou may'st consecrated be
And set apart
Unto a life of sympathy.
For heavy is the weight of ill
In every heart;
And comforters are needed much
Of Christlike touch.
— A. E. HAMILTON
This is how she chose to close the last chapter of her autobiography...with a call to fellow healers. And many who have been immeasurably blessed, healed, and transformed by God's love, have gratefully answered that call. I am honored to work among such humble servants of the Most High. I love you, dear colleagues...I am amazed by your selflessness, moved by your example, touched by your compassion, and encouraged by your lives of self-surrender, availability, and grace.
In your company I hear the song of angels and the lullabies of that mother-love in each of you, singing "low, sad, and sweet" as you lift up the Christ child in every man, woman and child...each moment, of every day and night...you are my heroes.
I am honored to be manger-watching with you tonight....
Kate Robertson, CS
[photo credit: Ashley Bay 2009]