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A Kind Of Healing

by supergran 

Posted: 26 March 2005
Word Count: 839

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“Go straight up,” she told me, her lips smiling but her eyes swollen and sad. “Mother’s asleep — unconscious. The doctor says it won’t be long now — a matter of hours.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, feeling inadequate. “She’s put up a good fight. She must be very tired. I’ll just pray with her for a little while.”
“Yes please,” she said. “Mother would like that. Don’t worry, you won’t wake her up.”
I entered the tiny bedroom. Deathbed visits were not new to me, but I found every occasion an awesome privilege never to be taken lightly. Betty was lying in a snowy-white bed: eyes closed; head raised on high pillows; arms over the top of the covers. Her breathing was a little laboured but she looked quite peaceful. Her hair had been brushed and it surrounded her face like a silver halo. Her bed was surrounded by spring flowers, their heavenly scent and joyful brightness dispelling gloom and sadness. She was a greatly loved lady.
I sat down on the chair placed next to the bed and took Betty’s hand in mine. My mind wandered back to the first time I met her and her husband. Being a pastoral visitor, a friend had asked me to call on them.
“They will be pleased to see you but they are far from happy with the Church. They are always complaining no one visits them. But then, they never go near the village church and they never ask for a visit either. They need someone to go and see them though, they’ve been through a lot of suffering.”
I was indeed welcomed by both husband and wife, and given the usual cup of tea in a china cup. I sat and sipped the tea and listened to the long list of complaints about the Church and the vicars that never visited them. Moaning and complaining went on every time I visited, not just about the Church but Betty’s lot in life. In her place, I would have been moaning too! All her siblings, and there were many of them, had died young of an inherited disease and her own children had suffered in various ways — one taking his own life. It was indeed a very sad tale. Betty was almost blind, she was arthritic and had a throat condition that proved to be cancerous.
I left the area and lost touch with Betty and Bill. After a couple of years, Betty’s daughter — she lived in the parish where I now served — asked me to visit her mother who was now staying with her. And so our relationship was restored. Since she was very poorly, she very much appreciated being prayed for. As usual, her moaning and complaining was part of the visit. But that particular morning, with just hours for her to live, she lay in silence.
I took out my slim Bible and opened it at St John’s Gospel, chapter fourteen.
“Set your troubled hearts at rest. Trust in God always; trust also in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house….”
After reading the beautiful familiar verses I often said at funerals, I took her hand again and prayed for her personally. I then prayed the Lord’s Prayer, saying it with Betty in mind. Betty’s lips started moving — she was mouthing the words with me. A kind of holiness surrounded us — I have rarely felt such tranquility.
Eventually, not expecting to see her alive again, I quietly said goodbye. She lay very still with her eyes closed. With my cheeks wet from joy rather than sorrow, I silently left the room.

The next morning, I called at the house expecting to hear that she had died peacefully in her sleep. Not so. There was a broad smile on the face of Betty’s daughter when she opened the door to me.
“Go straight up,” she said. “You will certainly see a difference in her this morning.”
I opened the bedroom door and was amazed. Betty was sitting up in bed, her face radiating light and happiness. Sunlight streamed through the window but it was dull compared with the aura surrounding Betty. Joyfully, she told me that she had been sitting out of bed by the window to listen to the birds and to see the spring flowers in the gardens. She pointed out all the vases of flowers surrounding her bed and told me of their beauty. This, in spite of her very poorly eyes.

Poor sight she may have had but her vision was clear! No more complaining, not a single moan, her words were nothing but praise and thanksgiving. I have never met such a transformation. Of one thing I am certain, that dear lady had received a kind of healing — a healing that had brought her into Eternal Life.

"Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven." In a materialistic world, Betty is a constant reminder to me of the treasure to be found in spiritual values and realities.

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