Tag Archives: cure

Healing touch

If only I could touch his cloak,

thought the woman

who hoped for a cure.

If only….

She knew her disease,

having lived with it for twelve years,

and she wanted it gone.

Jesus was near enough for her fingers to

graze the tassel at the edge of his garment,

barely skimming the cloth,

her touch like a gentle breeze.

She reached out,

and the disease fled her body.

What joy she must have felt when

something shifted inside her,

and she knew her torment had ended.

That glancing touch had been enough.

If only I could touch his cloak,

I could be cured of my dis-ease,

the uncertainty that causes me to second-guess my decisions,

the insecurities and fears that can overshadow me

like the gray clouds of a winter day.

If only…

I want to trust enough to reach out and

touch the tassel of his cloak and

for him to turn toward me and ask,

Who touched me?

God heals

At Mass last weekend we heard the story of Naaman being cured of leprosy after plunging into the Jordan River seven times (2 Kings 14). The passage immediately before the cure story, though, relates Naaman’s expectations of how a cure would happen and his disappointment when things went in a different direction:

But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not…the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage (2 Kings 5:11-12).

How often do we have an idea of what God should do in order to meet our needs? How often do our expectations limit our experience of God? How often are we like Naaman—so certain of how events should unfold?

Naaman believed he knew the best way for the cure to happen. When his expectation was not met, he “went away angry.” Sound familiar?


I work in a cancer support center, and I see plenty of people going away angry—after a treatment does not produce the expected results, or family and friends don’t act in an expected way, or employers are uncompromising about time off or our bodies don’t rebound as we had hoped.

Letting go of our expectations can be so difficult. Like Naaman, we can be blind to the possibility of other options, stuck in our way of seeing things, certain that we know what is best.

But when we can let go of our expectations and be open to other options, we can make room for God to do what God will do. Sometimes that means a cure, but often it means a healing—of past hurts, fears or insecurities.

Letting go of our expectations opens us to endless possibilities.


During the nine months my friend Jim had brain cancer, we had plenty of experiences of unmet expectations. Surgery and treatments didn’t work—the cancer came back with a vengeance—accompanied by more complications than we anticipated. And people often said or did things that were just not helpful, usually acting out of their own expectations.

Let go were the two words I said repeatedly.

And when I could let go of my need to be right or to be in control, I saw how God was healing me in unexpected ways. I wanted to continue to live in that state of openness, so I pledged to say yes to whatever was offered.

In the year after Jim died, saying yes led to all kinds of unexpected opportunities, including a trip to Paris! Saying yes kept me open and helped me see that God is bigger than anything I could imagine.

Sometimes, like Naaman, doing the thing that seems least likely to work is exactly what we need to do.


My prayer

I start my mornings with an hour of quiet time—journaling, reading scripture, praying and writing. My missalette includes a Prayer for each day, written by saints or taken from a variety of Sacramentaries.

The diversity of sources intrigues me, and many are new to me. This month, I have been introduced to the Gelasian Sacramentary and Saint Makarios of Alexandria.

These prayers often spark a prayer of my own.

Recently, I have begun to ponder how I pray and what words I would use if I were writing my prayers down instead of just saying them.


Knowing I spend time in prayer each day, people often ask me to pray for them and those they love. My friend Ted believed I have hot line to God because the things he asked me to pray for turned out the way he wanted. I was nine for nine when he asked me to pray for his friend Adele.

Instead of getting better, though, as Ted had wanted, Adele died. When Ted called me to tell me Adele had died, he said, “Your prayers didn’t work.”

Ted had never asked me about the specifics of my prayer, so I took this occasion to tell him that I had not prayed for Adele to get better. I had prayed that God give Adele the grace and strength to face her difficulties, that her faith remain strong and that God grant her peace.

“Why didn’t you ask God to cure her?” he wanted to know.

“That is not how my relationship with God works,” I answered.

When my friend Jim got brain cancer, many people prayed that he would be cured, and they were certain God was going to comply with their wishes. It would have been miraculous because there is no known cure for the type of cancer Jim had.

“What will those people do on the day you die?” I asked Jim.

My prayer for Jim was that he get right with God, that he have the strength to face what was happening to him and that he be at peace. It was my prayer for him whether he was to live or die.

I share Ted’s confidence that I have God’s ear, but my concern is more focused on acceptance.

If I were to write a prayer, it would go something like this:

God, give me the strength to endure whatever hardship comes my way with grace and peace. Help me to let go of my own expectations and accept the truth of what is. Give me the wisdom to remember that my vision is limited; help me to trust that you see the big picture. Help me to be grateful for all that has been and to say “yes” to what is yet to be.

This is my prayer for myself and also how I pray for those on my Prayer List. Not miraculous cures—although I thank God when they happen—but hope for wisdom, courage, strength and peace.


Hope transformed

Spirituality was the topic of one of the presentations at the recent cancer caregivers workshop I attended. About two-thirds of the way through her talk, the speaker told the story of a family member who had been in treatment for cancer. When the doctor told them there were no more treatment options, the presenter said, “We gave up hope.”

Gave up hope? How could they give up hope? Without hope, we despair.hope-cancer-GodHer words were so jarring to me that I had difficulty listening to the rest of her talk. I wanted to stand up and shout, “Go back to that part about giving up hope.” But I didn’t.

Instead, after the talk, I composed my thoughts and shared with her how upsetting her words had been to me.

I suggested that hope is not restricted to life versus death, that it is not a one and done kind of thing. Hope can be transformed; it is malleable, adaptable.

I told her that when my friend Jim was diagnosed with a very aggressive, non-curable brain cancer, I had no hope he would survive it and accepted that he was going to die. His neurosurgeon was quite clear and definitive—short of a miracle, there was no way that Jim would survive Glioblastoma.

Some people grabbed onto that hope of a miracle and were convinced Jim would be miraculously cured.

I chose to accept the neurosurgeon’s prognosis; I am actually better when I accept the reality of a situation. Ambiguity and abstraction can make me anxious; facts steady me.

If a miracle had happened, I would have been absolutely ok with that; but, in the face of scientific fact, my hope went in a different direction.

I hoped Jim would survive surgery and live long enough to understand what was happening to him. I hoped he would have the strength and grace to accept his condition and to make peace with himself and God. I hoped he would be able to look back on his life with gratitude. I hoped that he would die peacefully.

I also hoped that I would be able to step up to the challenge of caring for him and helping him to live out the rest of his life as fully as possible. I hoped I would see God’s invitation to me and be able to respond.

I believe that in the cancer journey, hope must be transformed—again and again—to meet the challenges of the roller coaster ride of cancer. Giving up hope means giving in to despair.

Correlating hope with cure can put so much focus on the future that the present is overlooked. All of the goodness and blessings that are happening right now can go unnoticed.

For me, accepting the reality of Jim’s situation helped me to focus on the present and live in the moment. I knew every day might have been his last, and so I tried to make every day our best.

Death is inevitable; hope brings life.hope-cancer-God