I've flitted about the periphery of the group, as I tend to do in most social settings, connecting here and there but remaining both a part and at a remove. Something to do with being a foreign service brat, perhaps, but more likely just an aspect of my inward nature.
On that last day, as we closed, we shared a final crowd-sourced worship together, singing and praying in a vague ovoid that was the best circling-up we could manage.
At one point during that closing time, one of the pastors...a tatted-up Methodist Philadephia-Irish pit-brawler with a remarkably gracious and bright spirit...pulled a chair out to the center of the group. To that chair, he invited the our one Episcopalian, she with her sharp precise liturgically correct mind wrapped about a kind heart.
Surgery was coming for her, and soon, for lungs that were struggling to function.
And so twenty pastors gathered, and laid on hands. I placed mine on her back, behind her left lung, just above her diaphragm. Then we prayed, together, out loud. The holy-pit-brawler led it, but it was a swirl of languages and spiritual traditions, Spanish and Korean, English and that percussive nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh p-puh puhpuhpuh glossolalia that always reminds me of Chevy Chase putting in Caddyshack.
I prayed inwardly for a moment, and then took a deep breath and intoned a word. Ruach, I said, letting it flow out of me as fully as I could. I repeated it, not loudly, but with as much breath as I could, an overabundant outpouring of air.
Spirit, it means in Hebrew. Breath, it means in Hebrew. It felt like the right thing to speak.
I wasn't sure it was heard, as it blended out with the hum and crackle of a dozen other prayers. But it was there, breathed out into the air as it sparkled with spoken hopes.
A funny thing, healing prayers. They are peskily unreliable as direct interventions. They are not magic. But that does not mean they are without power. What they do, without question, is affirm that around you there is a cloud of other beings who desire your wellness. From the heart of their connectedness with the Source of Being, those beings speak that hope into you. They manifest it. They make it real.
They say, we know that it is possible that you might be made whole. Here we are, affirming that we desire that this possibility be made manifest, that we might celebrate it.