Prayer & Healing & Not Always Fixing

For awhile, a number of years ago, I hosted a radio show. I called it The Medicine Mix. On this show I used to have physicians or health-care-types come on the show and we would – chat. You know, one of the things I do best: talk.

So…I had this idea. I invited a local minister, a rabbi and a surgeon one morning to come on my show. I began our time by asking each of them if they believed in G-d. They did, of course, have different answers. There had been some research at the time (which I believe continues) on prayer and healing…drawing some sort of connection between the two. So we talked about it. We talked about what they had seen and what they had felt. It was an awesome show, actually…and when our allotted time was over we found ourselves, us four, in the elevator, going down, down…still talking about prayer and healing.

We couldn’t stop talking about it.

Not everyone, as you may know believes in G-d.    Some believe in peanut butter, some in apple pie – some in cable news….and some in cable sweaters.

I believe in goodness, Tinkerbell, rainy days and caramel apples in autumn.    I also believe in paint – and since we moved North I believe in wool socks.

I believe that there is a lot of stuff we don’t believe because we are frightened and there is a lot of stuff we believe because – we are frightened.

Mostly, I believe that the human heart and soul are powerful, powerful entities and there is so much we don’t know.

As I tell my patients that line from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”:  There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

So – I find in my work as an acupuncturist that, interestingly, I believe in G-d more than ever before.    It’s not an easy admission.   It’s just that I have seen a lot of stuff happen – and not happen – which confirms my personal suspicions that there is more at play than just us moving about our lives like pieces on a chess board.      

When I was first in school, I believed that my job was to heal people.  At that time, I understood that to heal someone was to make them better.   At that time, I was anxious to make people – better.    It is true that people go to doctors – or other practitioners because they desire healing…but really, is healing only ‘fixing’?

Truly, ‘fixing’ is part of the picture.  I do, have done – as others do and have done…plenty of ‘fixing’ people.    And let me say right here that I am appreciative of the people over the years who have come to me, trusting me to help them.   But sometimes…fixing is not required.

Sometimes ‘fixing’ is not possible.   But sometimes it is.

It is completely beyond the scope of my practice and my place in this life to tell anyone that they can or cannot get better.  My job is to do what I can within the scope of my practice…and to do it with love, with hope, with experience and, I hope, with wisdom.

So…I had just opened my practice when someone I knew was struggling with treatment for his brain cancer.   Over the years, I know that you have known many people who are ill, have been ill, have fought and have lost their strength…as have I.  But back then there were a few things that I did not understand.  

At that point I didn’t understand what I was supposed to do when I couldn’t fix anyone.

So this man I knew was lying on  my treatment table.  I could feel – just by holding his hand – his strength leaving his body.   I could just – feel it. 

I was helpless.  I didn’t know what to do.   And yet…people came to me for comfort.  To feel better.  Sure, I can ameliorate the side effects of chemo and radiation and I can…..(fill in the blank?)….

So there I was, thinking to myself – now what do I do? But then it came to me…I began to pray. May the Lord bless you and keep you….

And I realized, at that moment, that this is what I was supposed to do with all my patients.

I was supposed to pray.

All these years later I don’t believe that I have ever told a patient that I have done so (oops, the word is out….) – but that is what I have done.

Come to think of it, the surgeon who had been my radio guest mentioned just that on the show.  He also prayed for his patients.

Then another thing happened.   I got a phone call from someone who wanted me to help their son in hospice.  I had done a little bit of this work before, but this one man was having a lot of anxiety about passing…and I could help with that.   Here is a perfect example of how I couldn’t ‘fix’ someone.   In this case, healing meant prayer…and acceptance …and coming to a sense of peace with passing…if there is any such thing.

But for him…it was what was needed.

So a few months ago I had lunch with a man, a teacher, whom I hold dear.  He wanted to talk about healing.   So…we talked a little bit about healing.   I told him that healing was not always fixing….but to me healing means acceptance….being at peace.

Here we have the opportunity to spend more time with our own hearts, free from many outside distractions.

Me, in my own heart…I will be praying. For the soul of the world. For peace. But not for fixing things.

This is a conversation I will happily continue with you all.

We cannot stop talking about it.

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