Do you think of yourself as a healer? If not, you should. That’s what we’re here to do, according to Madeleine L’Engle.
And yet I want to challenge her. Me, a healer? I’ve always been one to squirm at the sight of blood. I knew I would never make it in the medical field no matter how compassionate my heart. And it’s been a real challenge for me as a mother to get past my emotions in medical emergencies to do what needs doing, though somehow I have pulled it off a time or two and come out the other side.
If I think a little deeper on this, however, I suppose I’ve done a fair amount of healing after all, just naturally in my vocation as a mother, and perhaps, too, in some of my other capacities as friend, co-worker, wife.
I’m not sure I’ve thought of it as a primary reason for my being here, however, until recently.
In L’Engle’s “Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith & Art” (which I am slowly absorbing but completely loving), she speaks of the Christian artist as a healer and then some.
“The artist who is a Christian, like any other Christian, is required to be in this world, but not of it,” she reminded us. “We are to be in this world as healers, as listeners, and as servants.”
Healers, listeners, servants. That we would be made just for this purpose is a compelling idea. We are here not for ourselves, after all, so much as for others. Yes, our own salvation, our own life needs to be tended to, too. In fact, we must either heal ourselves or find healing for ourselves before we can do this work of healing, listening to and serving others well.
But at some point, hopefully, we become equipped to do what we’re here to do — to give.
I feel this giving in the work I do as a writer. I am healed, and in the healing, I find ways to share this experience with others, and then they, too, can be healed, and freed. I can think of no greater fulfillment than to help another come to healing, to understanding, to love.
In creating art, L’Engle said, we are “once again able to do all the things we have forgotten; we are able to walk on water; we speak to the angels who call us; we move, unfettered, among the stars.”
Beautiful words, but certainly not limited to art. Whenever we are called on to be present to others, we must become unbound to a certain extent.
L’Engle’s words pull me in, make me nod, “Yes.” I see the water, the angels, and imagine myself “moving unfettered among the stars.” It is a lovely visual of freedom — of heaven, perhaps.
She goes on.
“We write, we make music, we draw pictures because we are listening for meaning, feeling for healing,” she said. “And during the writing of the story, or the painting, or the composing or singing or replaying, we are returned to that open creativity which was ours when we were children.”
We cannot, she added, be mature artists if we have lost the ability to believe as children. “An artist at work is in a condition of complete and total faith.”
And so it is with living. We cannot be mature, cannot achieve what we’re here to do, cannot be our best selves, truly free, if we lose our ability to believe. We must, as children of God, as mothers, friends, wives, aunts, grandmothers, be in a condition of complete and total faith to do our best work.
It is when we are in this state that we can be healers, listeners, servants. And what a beautiful thing to be able to do — to turn to another and give them our whole selves; to be “God with skin” to others.
Q4U: How have you been a healer, a listener, a servant this week?