Filed Under:  Columns, Opinion

Life is a long meditation/prayer/healing

17th September 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Fr. Jerome LeDoux
Contributing Columnist

After working well into the morning, I did not welcome a call just several hours into a deep sleep. Besides, the caller was someone prone to being cantankerous, at times even irascible. But, with a heart pumping capacity of only 30 percent and with no relative or friend who takes a minute for her, I knew that she was in great need of a willing ear.

“The shingles are paining me beyond belief,” she began. “I hurt so much that I have no interest in eating. I have not eaten in two days! All I do is lie in bed.”

“I have read that the trigger to awakening the dormant chicken pox virus is negative stress, for negative stress eventually breaks down the immune system. Control negative stress, and shingles, as well as many other ailments, go away,” I volunteered.

“Yes, I have heard that, but my life is too much of a mess to be free of negative stress. At that rate, I may never be able to get rid of the shingles.”

She then lapsed into a litany and comprehensive review of the in­credible ills and sundry afflictions, both emotional and physical, that have bedeviled her throughout most of her life. It pained me considerably just to hear her plaintive voice, her poignant story, her groping for God’s position and intervention, and the dearth of friends to rely on.

The saying “Time flies when you’re having fun” belies another truth, that “Time flies when one’s mind is fully involved with something or someone, even if the occasion is one fraught with suffering, intrigue, complications and a future clouded by doubt.”

Yes, time flew. Although I was sleep-deprived, and even though the topics of our conversation were anything but pleasant, I found it hard to believe that we conversed well over two hours. Pain and hardship usually slow time down, sometimes to a crawl. So, what was the force here kicking time into a very high gear, given the circumstances?

What else could it have been but the results slowly emerging from the intense exchange? When our conversation turned toward her having eaten nothing for two days, I found it irresistible to talk about a handful of vegan dishes that I have happened upon in my foraging and experimenting as a vegan. First, I mentioned 15-bean vegan soup.

“Oh, I love beans!” she blurted out in electrified fashion. “How do you make that? This is something I definitely want to do!”

Gone was her lack of appetite! While talking, she had arrived at this point with no idea that she was approaching it. Imperceptibly, and therefore unbeknown to her, the shingles pain had gradually slipped away until that pain was replaced by hunger pangs.

Her hunger pangs intensified as I began to describe the making of a 15-bean soup.

“Of course, soak the beans for at least eight hours,” I began. “Chop two large onions and a large bell pepper (I prefer red, orange or yellow). Two rounded teaspoons of granulated garlic (unless you do fresh toes), 1 teaspoon of sweet basil, 1 bay leaf, two heaping tablespoons of paprika, two heaping tablespoons of dried parsley, two tablespoons of olive oil, five diced Roma tomatoes, about 15 pieces of sun-dried tomatoes, pepper to taste, 8 cups of water, and cook just as you cook beans. I prefer a slow cooker. After about 16 hours, you will be amazed to see a bean stock consistency approximate that of gumbo!”

The whole while this conversation was in progress, I had the overwhelming feeling that I was not merely listening to a tale of woe, and not just interlarding my own comments into someone else’s narrative. Rather, I was in an intense meditation mode that included direct connection with the Almighty, thanksgiving and prayer of healing.

So what is spiritual meditation? It is anything that completes the triangle of tying oneself to God and one’s fellow humans. That is triangulation at its best. One can and should set aside a time or times for formal meditation, creating an atmosphere that is as friendly as possible for contemplation and prayer of quiet or other forms.

However, there are numerous oc­casions in life when we do not have to set the stage for meditation or prayer. Either the forces of Mother Nature, the pressures and pains of our fellow humans, or the constraints and ordeals of our own lives thrust us into a mode of meditation, thanksgiving, prayer of various kinds and the quest for healing.

The attentive listening and caring words of a friend are a powerful prayer and an irrepressible vehicle of healing. And just think. This is something we can do all the time.

This article was originally published in the September 17, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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