The Healer
The Healer
Charles M. Bidwell

Rose stood outside the door of the room and imagined the scene within. She knew that Mr. Kane, the man in the bed, was not alone; his daughter was with him. She also knew he was dying.

She could visualize Mr. Kane's daughter holding her father's hand and alternately stroking his forehead and hand. She had also observed that his daughter often looked out of the window of her father's hospital room or away from his face to focus on her grief for a moment. Rose surmised from what she had seen while cleaning his room, that Mr. Kane's daughter was caring for him the best way she knew how but felt helpless, none-the-less.

Rose no longer felt helpless in the face of any enduring disease, even when it was regarded as terminal. She had come to believe that she could help in some small way by focusing on the spirit of the person and then communicating with that person's body. She thought of it as "healing with blue light" but rarely spoke those words because she had rarely told anyone about either her belief or her practice. She was sending blue light to Mr. Kane now as she stood outside his room.

Rose was aware that the physicians in this acute care hospital reluctantly resigned themselves to palliative care measures when they were faced with the final days of a terminally ill patient. In situations such as Mr. Kane's, they no longer visited as often as they had before. While they had been unable to cure the ills in this man's body, they were also often unaware of how to still help heal him. Many of the health care providers that she had observed were ignorant of how they could heal the spirit of anyone, let alone a dying person like Mr. Kane. Some physicians, she felt, wanted to do something. She had seen them pause outside the door to Mr. Kane's room before they passed on by. She assumed that they felt helpless and were uncomfortable about going in when they had no cure or treatment to offer.

Rose had once or twice tried to explain (or was it describe, she wasn't certain which) the blue light that she imaged flowing from her to whoever she was focusing on. It always seemed to come from somewhere within her and flow easily to the other person. She imagined that it was love or good. (These are such ambiguous words, she thought; why weren't there more specific and widely understood terms for this power? Oh dear, that's another vague and misunderstood word.)

On those rare occasions when she felt safe enough to tell a receptive listener about the blue light, she recalled that it had started when her father was almost killed in a logging accident. She had sensed something was wrong - an uneasy, anxious feeling that came without any apparent justification or accountable cause. When the news of the accident came to her in words, she connected the time of his injury with her previous wave of anxiety and immediately closed her eyes and prayed for her father. The prayer was vague, because she didn't know exactly what he needed, but it was intensely laden with love and compassion and with the wish that whatever his body needed would be supplied. Her prayer also conveyed to his spirit that her spirit was with him just as it had been when they walked in the woods together. Those precious, honest, sharing times while she talked about her challenges at school and he shared his anxieties about his future and the family's welfare seemed to have forged a bond between them that no physical barriers could interrupt.

At first, she had not made the connection that just as his pain and danger had leapt the miles to touch her, so her love could leap great distances and touch his spirit energy. She reasoned this out later. Even later, she knew there was potential for this same love energy to be focused on anyone whether or not they were in a blood relationship with her.

It was months later that she was given the image of electric blue light coming from her midriff and flowing like a stream across the space between her and the other person on whom she focused. The flow of blue light never seemed to drain any energy from her; in fact, after a transmission she felt transfused with energy.

When she first engaged in an intentional transmission of blue light, she felt she had to keep her eyes closed to "see" the light streaming and to 'see' the person receiving it. With her eyes open, she found she was too easily distracted by the bustling activity in and around the ward. With practice on quiet evenings, however, she became skilled enough in her focusing that she did not need to look as though she were asleep while she sent blue light to someone.

Rose often didn't know whether her prayer or transmission of blue light brought any benefit to the person she was focusing on but she was convinced that it caused them no harm. Doing this seemed to be a task she was called, or meant, to do. It was certainly not a task for which she was paid, or even asked, to do. It wasn't part of her job description at this hospital but it was her personal gift to whomever she felt moved to give the healing blue light to.

Her job was to perform the duties of a cleaner on this ward - an environmental services assistant, as the motivation experts had renamed the position. To her, the name cleaner had a simple, pure ring to it, like healer, and so that's how she referred to her job when she reported her occupation to others. Her duties brought her to each patient's room at least once a day and more if they had need of her to clean up a spill or `accident'.

No one had ever thought to measure the length of hospital stay or the recovery rate of the patients on Rose's ward in relation to patients on other wards - why would they? They had no ideas that these patients were in any way receiving different treatment from the treatment received by other patients in the hospital. And besides that, how do you measure peace in dying? It certainly is not a quality to be noted in the patient's chart. But if they had made a statistical survey of these patients and matched them with similar patients elsewhere, they would have been able to prove to Rose what she felt in her heart - that her transmissions had a positive effect for patients. They might also have been able to prove that this effect occurred whether or not the person was aware that Rose wished them well. The unanswered (unanswerable?) question was, could they receive the benefit if they did not believe in anything non-physical?

Rose stood with her back to the wall as if she were waiting for someone and meditated. She used to have to close her eyes to concentrate her will but now she could do it almost

anywhere and at anytime and even in the midst of distracting events such as people walking by or the sound of the pages and announcements on the overhead speaker system.

She pictured Mr. Kane's face and focused on the image of his eyes. They were not the windows on his soul as many people had said. His words and actions gave a better view of his soul, but his eyes were the point where she felt most capable of touching his soul (or spirit as she preferred to name it). She focused on his eyes when she was in his presence even if the lids were down and hiding them from her view. Like the sun behind a cloud, she knew that they were there to see without looking. To Rose, these were not patients but people who were in crisis (or at least under stress).

She recalled the first time she had met Mr. Kane. Another patient by the name of Donna had died at peace the night before and she was cleaning Donna's room for the last time. While she was doing her chores, she was blessing Donna's spirit on its return to the Light and believing that Donna's spirit could now sense the love she had sent and was still sending to her. She paused to focus on letting go of Donna - on saying good-bye - and then focused on preparing the room for the next guest. She considered one of her spiritual gifts to be hospitality and she felt privileged to be able to welcome so many people into her second home. The porter had brought Mr. Kane into the room before she was finished with the bathroom so she got to greet him and to discover that he was open and to sense that he was relatively at peace. Such a refreshing person; he would be a gift to her and she looked forward to the time she would spend in his room. But that was two weeks ago and now he was near death.

His eyes were glassy and dry now and he seldom blinked. They had been more alert and teary when she had last been able to enter his room and clean it. She had looked into them when she paused by his side and asked if he was expecting anyone to visit that day. His eyes had a distant look as if he were trying to visualize whomever it was he wanted to see walk into his room and then he said, "Yes, I'm hoping that my daughter will come by and bring me a picture of my nephew."

His face brightened as he told her about Jeremy. `The apple of my eye', he once admitted. He had told Rose of how pleased he was to get a note from that seven-year-old boy in neat block printing with sketches in the margin. Mr. Kane's eyes were bright then as he recalled more active times but soon he sighed and closed them. Rose had said if he was tired she'd leave but he reached for her hand and said, "No, I was just thinking of how much I've already lost. Keep talking as you work; it helps me to realize that I'm not dead yet."

"No, that will come soon enough." She hesitated a moment to check her instincts and then ventured to ask, "Are you ready to die, Mr. Kane?"

Years ago, she would never have dreamed of asking anyone such a question, let alone someone who was terminally ill. But in her spiritual growth she had come to realize and to learn from these patients that they were thinking about their death a lot more than most people around them were willing to admit. She had also discovered that they were almost eager, if not at least at some level of comfort, to talk to someone about their fears and concerns as well as their hopes. Even when you are dying, you still have hopes; she had learned that from some of them.

As a cleaner, Rose had long ago learned how not to find the sight and smell of bodily fluids revolting. She had come to feel that she had the gift of seeing them as the life essence of a person or as signs that the person was alive and functioning at some level. Of course she didn't have to deal with the drainage from wounds or from tubes that were draining organs - the gloved nurses did that. But she was not upset by having to clean up after someone had vomited, urinated, or defecated onto the bed or floor. She would come and clean or help clean up and she would always look compassionately at the person and silently say `It's okay; I'd have done the same thing if I were as sick as you are.'

She only voiced that sentiment when the person apologized for having made the mess she had to clean up, but she always sent some forgiving love to the person before she left the room. Whether they were aware of it or not, it buoyed her spirit and repeatedly gave her a sense that she was making a positive and life-affirming difference. Of course, she knew that she gained as much as she gave; a long time ago she'd seen a postcard or poster declaring that "Happiness is like peanut butter; you can't spread it around without getting some on yourself" and she cheered that sentiment and cherished it to this day.

So here she was with Mr. Kane asking him if he was ready to die and not at all uncomfortable in doing so.

"I think so, Rose", Mr. Kane answered after pausing to give her a considered response. "I've got my will in order and I've even told Sally what I want done with my body and at the memorial service."

"You know, Rose, it seems strange but I had a sense that my life was ending even before I was brought to the hospital. I haven't told anyone else and I don't know why I'm telling you."

"Go on, Mr. Kane, I'm listening as I dust."

"It's just that I've thought about my dying a lot but I didn't want to alarm my family with the idea. It would put them in the awkward position of having to respond and I think they'd deny it. People are so quick to discount what you say about your own body." He paused to see if Rose was still interested in what he had to say.

"I've sometimes heard the doctors say something like `You let us decide what's going on in your body' is that what you mean?"

"Yes, I don't think it's that your family distrust your judgment, although it seems that way with some physicians. It's probably that they're so uncomfortable thinking about their loved one dying that they refuse to listen to your assessment of what it feels like is going on in your own body. I can just hear my daughter saying `Don't be silly, Dad, you're just going to the hospital so the doctors can treat your disease; you're not going there to die.' But people do die in the hospital, Rose, you know that; you've cleaned their rooms after they've died. What has it been like for you?"

"It's always been a quiet time. I always pause sometime during the cleaning to bless the spirit of the one who has passed on. What do you believe is beyond death?"

"You know, Rose, I've wondered about the after-death life many times in the past but it's always been sort of an academic exercise. I'd be trying to convince someone who was dying, or myself, that there was something exciting to look forward to but now it's not academic; I spend a lot of my time in this bed thinking about it."

Rose was fascinated. It always seemed such a privilege to be present when people were talking about deep feelings and their ideas about such things as relationships and beliefs. Mr. Kane was a deep thinker and an eager teacher, it seemed. She'd nicknamed him the professor and always looked forward to their conversations. "And what's your conclusion, Mr. Kane?"

"Rose, I find there's too much in the human spirit to be just the result of electrochemical stimulation on or in our brains. I believe that the essence of me, my soul, had a life before it entered this bag of bones at birth's first breath and it continues after."

"I'm with you on that, Mr. Kane."

"Did you know, Rose, that the Hebrew word for breath also has the meaning of spirit - as in "God breathed life into the dry bones"? I've always understood that to mean God breathed spirit into some folk whose hope and will had dried up and they were just going through the motions of being alive. I've met some dry bones folks in my time, let me tell you, and they are not a happy crew to be around."

"Tell me; I work with some."

"Well, I believe that same spirit goes on after this body stops breathing. I never was clear in my image of God; I find it hard to picture the awesome force of unconditional love that created me and the known universe but I am convinced that the universe is friendly and that the Source of my soul is more loving and delightful to rejoin than I can imagine. So I don't fear what follows death; any anxiety I have now is related to the amount of pain and abandonment I might experience in the process of dying."

"You needn't worry about that, Mr. Kane. I know that the doctors and nurses here are very good about keeping their patients as free of pain as possible or as you want to be."

"That's a comfort."

Then an overhead audio page summoned Rose to the nursing station. "Someone else needs me right now. I'll think of you while I'm gone and I hope you get to see Jeremy's picture soon." Rose paused a moment to look into Mr. Kane's eyes and then left without another word.

She went to the nursing station and then down to Mr. Rodigor's room to clean. His catheter had pulled loose while he was getting back into bed. Mr. Rodigor never spoke to her and she never pushed beyond a few words to which he barely responded. She wished neither to intrude into anyone's life space nor to interfere with their spirit's journey, so she stopped saying anything when she cleaned his room. But that didn't stop her from thinking about him daily, especially while she was cleaning his room and noting the cards and flowers and visitors. He was not being abandoned and he was not dying but she felt he lacked the fight and the positive approach to his body that would speed his recovery. Some people unconsciously enjoyed being ill and getting attention to the point that they handed over the control of their bodies to the care of others and took no responsibility for their own healing. She felt (no, she knew) that she could help them if they were looking for help but she refused to intrude where she was not given an invitation.

Having finished her shift, she now stood there sending blue light to Mr. Kane and her gaze became glazed as she did so. She felt the familiar radiation rippling from within her and basked in its energy. She blessed him with peace and warmth, with confident comfort and a vision of brightness. She could see it all (sense it might be truer to the experience) but she had always had difficulty describing it to anyone. How do you use physical descriptors for a spiritual experience? Mystics seldom tried; they just gave themselves over to the Presence and that was enough to send them into the world to seek justice and walk humbly with their God. Mystics rarely tried to describe their experiences and when they did they always insisted that this was just an approximation of the experience. She knew well what they were trying to communicate but preferred not to try to communicate it to others; she just did it.

Rose shifted her weight and bent her knees slightly to flatten her back against the wall. She stood there and sent words to Mr. Kane.

"Let go, Mr. Kane," she thought. "Go on through to the brightness you referred to. Go to that awesome creative force of unconditional love. Return to the Source of your spirit. And I bless you on your way."

Rose paused and held that thought in her mind for a moment to be certain that it had been clearly transmitted in a peaceful, unhurried manner.

It was done. Rose glanced around, walked to the waiting area and sat for a few moments to rest her legs. She always preferred to say those words aloud to the person but she rarely had the opportunity. She also knew that although it was not as effective when she expressed them silently as it was when loved ones spoke them (or similar expressions of permission to pass on through) out loud to the person. Still, what she had done was effective in some small way and would prepare Mr. Kane even more to let go of this life.

Mr. Kane's daughter left the room and went home for the night. Rose went home too.

Copyright © 1995 Charles M. Bidwell