“Jesus is able to heal because love heals.” Those words struck me the first time I read them this week.
And then, on Tuesday afternoon after a pleasant day spent in Mommy Therapy with a friend and her girls, my fifteen-month-old Toddlerina started throwing up. The adventure continues through today, while my husband lies on the couch, alternately sleeping, sipping Gatorade (and hopefully in a while, some chicken broth), and watching TV. We’ve all been touched by this bug, and it’s made me reflect on these words differently than I started the week.
At the beginning of the week, I was thinking of internal healing. I was thinking of the many ways I was — and still am — broken inside, and how Jesus touches them, when I let him, and how his love heals. Before Tuesday, the healing properties of love smelled like roses and chocolate, which was fine with me, because Saturday was not only Valentines Day, but also a long overdue Date Day.
Once my gag reflex started fighting back, though, love seemed less rosy and more…real. With the small heads rotating on my shoulders, jumping up in the wee hours to the alarm of a coughing noise from the other room, and serving the sick ones in my house, love has been a lesson, in service, in commitment, in compassion.
When I found myself hugging the toilet and groping for sanity and washcloths, love wasn’t on my mind. No, I was not thinking in the proper sense of the word, but I was heading for the cool cotton pillowcase upstairs and the relief that only sleep would bring. But, on the day I couldn’t move, I felt the healing touch of love in the form of help from both a friend and a mother.
I find myself, so often, trying to do it all myself. I’m the first one in line to give help, if I can, but accepting it…not so much. Isn’t independence the highest virtue? And this week, I’m reminded, through our sick bay experience and through our week in the online retreat, that no, no it’s not.
In First Corinthians, Paul writes, “faith, hope, love remain, these three, but the greatest of these is love” (13:13). I’ve known that chapter and verse for as long as I can remember; I think my mom once made me read it when I’d made her angry. And then there are all the weddings where you hear 1 Corinthians 13 read. It’s easy to blow love off as, well, something just for kids, for weddings, for holidays in February.
The truth of the matter, as we see in our reflections this week, that love is exactly where Jesus wants us to focus our energy. Love heals. The service of reaching out to someone in need and thus forgetting ourselves, the commitment of giving to another again and again and thus sacrificing our time and energy, the compassion of holding close the outcast and the leper and thus stepping closer to Jesus…it is in this that we find the healing power of love.
And you know what? I was as healed this week by the love I received as by the love I gave.
“Jesus is able to heal because love heals. The more complete the love, the more profound the healing. Jesus’ love is penetrating. He doesn’t hold back any of himself in loving. He is neither put off by disfigurement or fear of contamination or even religious conventions that place limits to his loving. He is not afraid to touch and touch deeply. His heart is full of compassion. Jesus can so suffer-with the one who suffers that he enters into the depths of – even the roots of – the pain of those he loves. Jesus loves so deeply he can understand and love the paralysis that causes the paralysis, the blindness that underlies the blindness, the leprosy that breaks out in leprosy. Jesus heals by embracing. Jesus embraces the inner illness that seems so untouchable or rigid or is hidden in the darkness of denial. Jesus can love the whole person into wellness, precisely because he loves the whole person in brokenness. With such great love Jesus the Lover can say, “Get up and start moving freely again,” or “Open your eyes and see again.””