"...Never would have believed it
till I felt it in my own heart
In the deepest part
the healing came..."
- Sara Groves
In response to last Tuesday's post "so like still water," which referred to a life-threatening illness, one regular reader of this blog...someone who was able to make the connection between this passing reference, an article* on my website, and an earlier post that mentioned my healing of cancer...asked a wonderful question:
"What song do you associate with the moment in
which you knew you were healed of cancer, and why?"
I loved the way this reader was so sure that I would, most certainly, have a musical keynote for any significant experience in my life. And although, I have talked about how I prayed through the circumstances surrounding the diagnosis, the deterioration of my health, the terror I felt as the physical symptoms escalated, and some of the emotional issues associated with facing that diagnosis, I don't think I have ever written about the "healing" itself. Perhaps it is time.
But first, the song. Hmmm...what song do I associate with this healing...with the irrefutable cure, the end of the pain, the reversal of physical deterioration, and being able to stand toe-to-toe with the threat of death. I didn't have to think for a second. "Something Changed" by Sara Groves. Although it had not been written or recorded when I went through this experience, the moment I heard it, I felt...again...that sweet dissolving I experienced at the very moment of awakening and inner transformation I associate with my cure.
I'd had many inbreaking moments of grace...of courage, a persistent awareness of God's presence, the power of Truth to lift me "ayont hate's thrall", but the symptoms hadn't subsided or changed, and the full awakening didn't come until one afternoon when I thought I'd hit rock bottom...in every way.
A group of us had left work early to drive a few hours north of Boston for a folk concert. The artist was a friend who had recorded a new album and we were going to hear him perform songs from the new release at a little high school in New Hampshire. All fears of my life ending way-too-soon, being forgotten, feeling insignificant and dismissible, were screaming, "see, I told you, you were nothing" throughout that drive. I was in so much pain and I felt as if I would, as I had for weeks, lose every ounce of food I had tried to eat.
I was grateful when we stopped at a seedy, old gas station to fill up, and took immediate advantage of the opportunity to visit the restroom. It was the most filthy, horrible, gut-twisting restroom I had ever been in. As I kneeled in front of the toilet with my arms wrapped around the porcelain, trying to steady myself as I retched endlessly, my first thought was, "Okay, it can't get any worse than this...perhaps I could just die right here and now....dear God, I can't do this anymore!!"
But it wasn't just the retching, the pain, or the fear I couldn't "do anymore"...it was the hate. I hated. There I have said it. I hated what the collapse of an adoption had done to my heart. I had stopped trusting. I had stopped believing in my own worth, and therefore in my worthiness to be loved. I was suspicious, fearful, and didn't want to die...unloved. I loved my family, my friends, my work colleagues. But I didn't feel like I had anything left of myelf to give them that had value, in reciprocity. I was an empty shell of a person.
But right on the heels of that thought, came the message, "Nothing can separate me from the love of God, neither height, nor depth, nor any other creature..." I realized that even though I felt so unloveable, I had not sunk to a depth of despair, so deep, that I couldn't love. Even in the midst of a situation that felt very, very unlovable and justifiably debilitating...I could love. I looked around that nasty, groady, disgusting bathroom and smiled. Right there, right in the midst of that...I could love. I could love. I could love. I could love. It didn't matter if I thought I was being loved, it mattered that I could love. Nothing could take that away from me...not even the howling, insidious voice of hatred.
I got up off the floor. Scrubbed my hands and face with some scratchy pink powdered soap -- a smell that reminded me of my early childhood. A chapter from my childhood that found me, many Saturday mornings, washing my hands at my dad's gas station after scrubbing toilets and sinks...with scratchy pink soap. I looked in the grimy, scratched mirror, and smiled at the gaunt, bruised version of me looking back in wonder, and felt such an extraordinary love for her, for the woman who could love in the midst of pain, heartbreak, and fear...and for the little girl that I had once been, as well.
In that moment something changed inside me. It was as if every cell in my body remembered what its purpose was, and shifted into molecular alignment with that purpose...to love. Or, as Mary Baker Eddy encourages us to understand about ourselves: "Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique."
I knew, then, that it was over. And it was.
That's the moment I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I was irrevocably cured of cancer. This would not be the last time this disease would suggest itself. But it was the last time it would give me pause. And although there were dozens of healing moments leading up to that fully awakened sense of life as "Love alone..." -- this is the one, that I think, the reader was asking about....and "Something Changed" is the song. I don't know that a "healing" always looks, or feels, like this. I believe that healings can take many forms. This is simply my story, of what I experienced, in that instance.
Paul wrote to the Romans...yes, the Romans:
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
I think I caught, just a glimpse of what he was saying, and it changed everything. I was more than the pain, more than the fear, more than the hatred...I was just more than I ever knew I could be...and that more, was love.
offered with love,
*If you would like to read more about this healing you can find one account on the "How" page of my website...just click on the article titled, "Cancer Healed" originally published in the Christian Science Sentinel. If it would be helpful to have the context surrounding those healing moments leading up to this cure, you can find them in this section from this blog..