i’ve slacked on this post because i’ve been trying to figure out how to best honor the themes of fate, faith and forgiveness. i’m having a very difficult time with focus and concentration. my head feels like a mirrorball full of helium and tumbleweeds of confusion. are these symptoms? i still don’t know what MS means to me. i’ve explained this to only a few of my closest friends, one of whom spent this past Sunday with me.
i met Nate six years ago through his cousins and we became instant friends. it was one of those connections that had me wondering where he’d been all my life. we and the aforementioned cousins went on a riotously fun adventure to the Seneca Wine Trail, throughout which Nate wore a rubber dinosaur hand from a child’s halloween costume he’d randomly found at the house we were staying at. i’ll forever have an image of him casually picking up pieces of public popcorn off the bar at a classy winery with that dinosaur hand burned in my memory. he’s that kind of person… the kind who is always creating moments to smile about in retrospect… moments like this one, where he was just casually enjoying a BlowPop with his dino hand. (i’m laughing out loud right now.)
so, over these six years, we have only hung out a handful of treasured times due to distance but we have kept close contact. when i started making public announcements on Facebook about my health, i got a sweet notification that he had updated his profile picture to a snapshot of us from that winery adventure (see us looking confuzzled in that particular photo below). so sweet. even sweeter? he wrote a heartfelt caption about our awesome friendship and wished me well. even sweeter still? he contacted me directly to tell me he was going to be in town and would love to hang out!
this part of the post is going to drive me crazy because it involves more back story and i’ll admit i’ve been sitting on writing this because of it. as i mentioned before, my brain is london fog town right now and this simple task feels gargantuan. this part of the post is also super important because the back story is the springboard for the theme of faith. i hope i do its effect on the day justice. anyway, here goes…
my Talbot grandparents (the adorable ones i visited and wrote about in the last post) told their good friends about my situation. these friends told my grandparents that a “healer” would be coming to their church on Sunday and that it would be wonderful if i attended. my grandparents relayed this invitation to my mom who in turn relayed this invitation to me.
(this is where it gets tricky) i did not grow up in the church but i did not grow up without the concept of God. you who have been following since the beginning may have picked up on this via my use of [Higher Power] in my first post. i’ve always been searching for a deeper connection to something, though, and have always kept the possibility of finding that deeper connection open. i just don’t know where my relationship stands with Him at this point in my life (or if it is Him that i am seeking)… hence [Higher Power]. Nate’s family has Three Springs Ministries, a beautiful Christian retreat located in north central Pennsylvania. i know God and faith have been a huge part of his life and i’ve always admired that. keeping something sacred like that is something i aspire to do.
so there’s the pesky chunk of back story. i’m relieved it’s out of the way and i’ll be even more relieved if its function and format is conducive to this post’s intended theme.
our May Day/Sunday rendezvous began with lunch in Mansfield. mom came along because, even though she’s met this kid once, she adores Nate too. we enjoyed oversized plates of chain fare and i filled Nate in on all of this MS business. he was interested in my treatment plan (which as of yet is still a mystery) and it prompted mom to mention the invitation to see the “healer” later that day and asked him, as a devout dude, what he thought about the prospect of us going. i know she almost didn’t bring it up and i’m glad she did because this topic of healing caused Nate to open up about some struggles he’d been having and, after a particularly rough night earlier in the week, he decided he was going to challenge himself to stay sober for 365 days. he said he wasn’t sure what “healer” meant but we could either not go and trounce the possibility of taking what was being offered or we could go and embrace that possibility. i summarized his statement with “there’s a weird door, we open it or leave it be.” mom decided to ruminate on it while checking on our grandparents’ house, leaving Nate and i to continue the conversation alone. i told Nate i doubt i’ll be drinking much anymore and we each downloaded NOMO, a sobriety app, on our phones. i asked him what he was up to for the rest of the day (no plans for either of us) and then i asked him, “welp, shall we go see this healer?”
so, to the church we went. the “healer” was actually a visiting minister whose focus was on the healing power of forgiveness… forgiveness for yourself, forgiveness for others. for years i’ve been turning the phrase “forgiveness is necessary for survival” all around in my head. it’s gotten me through things i can’t explain… why do bad things happen to good people? why do good things happen to bad people? what ARE good people and bad people? we’re people… we screw up… forgiveness is necessary for survival.
the sermon was really something special and i noticed that Nate was scrolling through his phone for most of it. he’s a classy guy and wouldn’t be Tindering in church… a closer look revealed that he was reading the corresponding scripture.
Me: is that a Bible app?
Nate: yeah. get it!
… and this is why NOMO and The Holy Bible are now neighbors on my main screen.
at the end of the sermon the congregation was invited to speak with members of the church who had been prepared to heal through prayer. you could get in one line and be prayed for, you could get in a second line and be anointed with oil and/or you could get in a third line to have a more intensive one-on-one healing experience. i stayed put, awkward from my mostly churchless existence. Nate got up to get in the first line but came back a few minutes later because he wasn’t “feeling the spirit.” this caught the eye of one of the church members who immediately came over and approached Nate. this man counseled Nate, who confessed his struggles, and he started to pray for him. it was an intense experience. I held Nate’s hand while this stranger prayed over him, hugging him and allowing him to emotionally release and… forgive.
my grandparents’ friends who had invited us in the first place came around with other people i knew and other people i didn’t and i was prayed for too. we were embraced by strangers like family.
i couldn’t (and still can’t) shake the feeling that this all was fated somehow… Nate and i being in town at the same time for the first time in forever, our simultaneous struggles, the weird door appearing for us to walk through it together. i’m so glad we took a peek to see what was inside… because it was beautiful and just what we needed. much like our friendship from the very start.
my body feels like shit but my heart and soul feel golden.
and now, a photo of us before we walked through the weird door.
my appreciation for you all is as intense as a cherry healing prayer session.