"Thank you for this day, O Lord, thank you for this day.... this healing, this healing, this healing day...."
This was a song that Kathleen and I used to sing every evening after our devotions. Yesterday was indeed a healing day. It began with my attending "Marketday Communion" at St Augustine's by the Sea. Every Wednesday this communion service takes place in conjunction with the farmer's market. Kathleen loved to go to this communion service since it was small and intimate and deeply Christian. I love to go for the same reason, and also because it reminds me of Kathleen. As we went through our cancer journey, and as I have been going through my grieving, this little group of Episcopalians, and especially Rector Hartshorn Murphy, have been wonderfully supportive and kind. I feel the presence of Christ whenever I break bread and drink wine with these good people.
Following this communion service, I go to the Farmers' Market and enjoy the fresh food and happy people. I also make it a practice to talk with Severina, a black woman in a wheelchair who asks passersby for money. Severina is from Brazil and has a Portugese accent. She used to pray fervently for Kathleen's healing. After Kathleen's death, she began praying for me and was very concerned about how I am doing. She even tried to set me up with a new wife!
Yesterday Severina told me that the state has cut back her disability by a couple of hundred dollars. This is happening to many of the most needy in our state.....It's a sin....
Stan and Laurel, members of my Quaker "care committee," came for lunch and a "house blessing." Quakers don't have paid pastors, so pastoral care is done by members of a ministry and counsel committee. Last summer, when Kathleen was diagnosed with cancer, I requested a care committee and they met with us over the course of the year to pray with us and to offer support and comfort.
I asked to meet with my care committee so that I could reflect on my new life as a single person.
Stan and Laurel brought food--delicious homemade bean soup and bread from Trader Joe's--and we had a time of silent worship. (Quakers used the term "opportunity" to describe such home worship.)
During this time of worship, I reflected on how I am entering a new stage in the grief process. I no longer feel the intense pain of loss, but rather a dull ache of loneliness that comes over me from time to time. I feel more inspired than ever by Kathleen's spirit, but I miss her physical presence. It is hard, especially for men, to lose one's best friend and constant companion. How does one form new friends, and new relationships with old frends?
Sometimes it's the little things that are most challenging. How does one go to a movie or a concert and ask a friend to join you without its being considered a "date"? I don't want to become romantically entangled with anyone, but I do want to return to some of the recreational activities that were part of my normal life.
It occured to us that maybe we could form some kind of singles' group at our meeting and help each other figure out how to be single and be together as a community/family. We decided to bring this up for discussion at our next ministry and council meeting.
I spent the afternoon working on a mailing for ICUJP and putting together a report on development and outreach. I also answered emails, made some phonecalls, and had a pretty quiet day.
In the evening, I went to a "meeting for healing" at Santa Monica Meeting. These meetings take place every first and third Wednesday. Friends gather together in silence, as in a regular meeting for worship. The main difference is that instead of vocal ministry, people pray for each other's healing. A person who feels the need for healing may rise and sit in a designated chair. Others will gather around him or her and pray, often laying on hands. Some of those involved in these meetings for healing have been trained in therapeutic touch or reiki. Others, like me, simply try to channel healing energy as best we can.
It is very comforting and healing to be "prayed over" in this way. The silence and the laying on of hands, and the loving energy, can be a powerful force.
Between five and ten people gather for these sessions. At the end of last night's meeting for healing we sang, "Thank you for this day, O Lord...." at the request of Barbara. She later said she felt Kathleen's presence in the room. So did I. She loved these meetings for healing and is no doubt happy that I am continuing to take part in them.