There are so many aspects of the profound presence of God at St. Paul’s Cathedral for which to be grateful, it is difficult to focus on just one. However, I would like to talk about something that has become a true Cornerstone for me this past year: And that is, the many opportunities to receive God’s healing power directly and through the support of each other.
In June of this year, I was diagnosed as having marginal cell lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. It was devastating news and humbling! There was a temptation to be in denial because I felt good, but three different labs had done the tests so I knew it was true. I began praying to God, pleading for Him to take the disease away immediately, and also did some bargaining with Him.
At first there was silence, and then an answer and direction finally came to me: I needed to reach out to what God was already providing right here: You, my church family.
The first thing that came to mind was to be placed on the prayer list and be lifted up to God through the prayers said daily at St. Paul’s. I had done this several times for friends and family, but never for myself. I called the Cathedral office and Brooks Mason graciously added me, but he also said that if there was anything I needed help with – whether it was rides to the doctor or someone to bring me communion – to please let him know.
Next, I went to the healing station on Sunday. It is located to my right in front of the painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe and is available to anyone every Sunday at 10:30 during communion. As with the prayer list, I had come to the healing station before on behalf of friends and family, but never for myself. And when I did, the priest there laid one hand on my head and the other on my shoulder and said, “I lay my hands on you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, beseeching Him through His grace to heal you, guide the doctors and nurses in treating and caring for you, remove this disease from you, and make you whole and well. ” There was something about their touch, the words, the tone of their voice and the look in their eyes that so reassured, so comforted me that I knew it was directly from Jesus. In the following weeks, I went there several times, and each time, was brought to tears as I knew and felt God’s presence.
I also started attending the noon mass during the week, right over here in the chapel – a wonderful opportunity to partake of Jesus’ body and blood (our Master Healer) Monday through Saturday. There are not many churches where this is available and it truly is a blessing. I have been attending the noon mass on Tuesdays every week since the diagnosis. Rev. Lee Teed usually presides and after communion, Lee would anoint me and invite those in attendance to gather around and lay their hands on me asking for healing in Jesus’ name. Once again, the loving and sincere touch I felt by people – some of whom I did not even know – brought on a tremendous sense of knowing I was not alone. It was very powerful.
And through it all you gave me so many gifts of love and support in the form of cards and telephone calls, offers to drive me to chemotherapy treatments or to deliver an occasional meal. I cannot tell you how much it meant to feel that I wasn’t bearing this alone. Thank you very much.
Many times when Jesus healed people, they reached out to Him initially, making an effort to touch him or talk with Him, so they could be touched and healed by Him. Please know that if you or someone you know is experiencing a hardship in your life, your Cathedral family wants to help. And never think that your problem is too small or that this place is too big. You just need to reach out. We truly are a family, sharing each other’s burdens, and there is so much love and support here.
Why do I choose to be generous? Because, not only do I feel I have I experienced healing through this wonderful community, but because of the healing touch that happens in so many ways here at St. Paul’s. I’ve named a few, but there are so many more. The simple act of not just welcoming, but accepting and affirming all people – that is an act of healing. Inviting all to God’s table to receive the Eucharist no matter where anyone is on the journey of faith –that is a profound act of healing. Our exquisite music, ministries and programs to help us grow in relationship and intimacy with God – all acts of healing.
For me, we are at our core, healers of one another through God’s love. I choose to be generous because I want us all to be touched and healed in the ways we each need, and in the most important way imaginable – the knowledge that each of us is a cherished creation of God.