While I was visiting friends this summer, one of their young children started running in the driveway. He was wearing a superhero shirt and trying to run at super speed, but his legs couldn’t go that fast. Down he went, skinning his knee. He was shocked and hurt and immediately started bawling.
You already know what happened next.
His mom hurried over, scooped him up in her arms and hugged him. She patted his back and comforted him. Once he had stopped crying, she took him inside, cleaned up the knee, covered it with a superhero bandage and got him a frozen treat. Soon, he was running around the driveway some more.
Yep. Mom had that healing touch.
But don’t we all?
In his book “God & Empire,” John Dominic Crossan makes an important distinction between curing and healing. Our diseases go beyond our immune systems, affecting us in many ways and on many levels — our feelings, our outlook, our spirits. Often when our disease is cured, there is still a lot of emotional healing left to do.
I think his point is that we can help people heal, even if we can’t cure the source of their pain. And that’s important. We can’t make the bleeding knee as good as new with a bandage and a frozen treat, but we can heal the painful feelings that go with it.
And it goes beyond skinned knees. So many people suffer from so many things that have nothing to do with germs — rejection, loneliness, poverty, discrimination, various types of abuse. They have deep and long-lasting hurts.
They need healing, too.
Do you know people who seem to have that healing touch? The ones that use compassion and humor and empathy to help us get us through the bumps and bruises of each day? When our lives get upended, they’re able to help us regain our bearings. They help us heal, again and again.
We all have healing powers.
People in various religious traditions have been described as healers. Some of the stories about Jesus tell how he tried to heal not only the sick but those who were rejected and ignored. And he told his followers that they had to be healers, too. Try to heal each other’s hurts. Try to heal the various sicknesses in our societies.
And let ourselves heal, too. Healing is collaborative. When we touch someone who is hurting, we also end up healed a little bit more.
Life is about healing. And about being healers.
Did you see the photos recently of Pope Francis embracing the man with the tumors? The man has a painful genetic disorder that results in tumors on his face and the rest of his body. Can you imagine what it must be like for him to deal with not only the pain from the tumors but the pain from the way some people react to his appearance?
How did Francis react to him? He smiled, pulled him close, embraced him and kissed him. He recognized him as a beautiful person.
He gave him love. And a moment of healing.