Becoming a Healing Presence
Becoming a Healing Presence by Albert S. Rossi
Ancient Faith Publishing, 2014
My priest highly recommends this book. Reading it multiple times has been most edifying. Dr. Rossi somehow expresses the heart of ancient Orthodox wisdom in a way that is digestible and easy to read. The following quotations are just a sampling of this book's riches:
Our elders tell us that the person seeking inner stillness is someone who has embarked on the journey into his own heart . . . . As St. Basil said, we return to ourselves; and having returned inwardly, we ascend to God.
So, a healing presence is, in a sense, a conduit of fire. The fire of the Godhead, hotter than the sun, goes through the clay conduit, and out the other side as fire to another human. We simply allow the fire to go through us. But it is a healing fire nonetheless.
Breathing the Name Jesus
We breathe the name of Jesus. His Person is mysteriously encapsulated in His name. His name is His presence.
As we slow down to hear our breathing, we can become aware of an inner vastness opening up, a new dimension to our awareness. This is the beginning of an awareness of the holy presence of God.
Humility provides an antidote to a prideful belief that our mind can think and remember with certainty.
And our breath gives us the opportunity to remember Christ, not our thoughts and meandering memories.
The Healing Heart
The healing heart is one that is a chapel for Jesus, for His Name to dwell in.
Father Roman Braga . . . said that when he was in the Romanian concentration camp, the officials tried to destroy the intellectuals by putting them in solitary confinement without their books. The theory was that this would break the intellectuals' spirit because it would remove their stimulation and their connection with each other. Father Roman said that for him, there was "no place to go." He didn't have anything outside himself for solace. He then made a startling statement: "So I went into my inner universe."
The physical heart is where we place our awareness to enter into the realm of the spiritual heart.
Vocation as a Way of Life
Christ provides everything in our quest to be a healing presence. He provides the opportunity for us to have encounters with others, the heart-awareness to know what to say and do, another person to be a healing presence for, and the life-energy to actually make a difference with another person.
My task is to find gratitude in all circumstances, including negative life situations.
If I put all things in God's hands, I will see God's hands in all things. That's my vocation, to see God's hands in all that I do and say.
We heal others by saying the Name of Jesus over them.
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh has a profound insight to offer us: Unless we look at a person and see the beauty there is in this person, we can contribute nothing to him. One does not help a person by discerning what is wrong, what is ugly, what is distorted. Christ looked at everyone he met, at the prostitute, the thief, and saw the beauty hidden there. Perhaps it was distorted, perhaps damaged, but it was beauty none the less, and what he did was to call out this beauty. (from a homily preached on August 14, 1983)
Gentleness as a Mindset
Mother Teresa also said, "Accept all He gives and whatever He takes with a big smile. For this is holiness - to do His will with a big smile."
Mother Teresa said, "I will never understand all the good a single smile can accomplish."
Active listening absorbs the meanings and feelings behind the other's words and demonstrates, to the satisfaction of the other, that we actually heard what was said. Our response is usually a short declarative sentence.
As St. Irenaeus said, "We relax in God's hands."
The Sacrament of the Present Moment
We can only meet God in the present moment.
What can we find to assist us in our quest to enter the present moment more fully? Prayer is the perfect way. Beyond prayer, there are at least three basic ways, all of which have to do with altering our awareness.
First, we can be attentive to our breath and our heartbeat.
Second, we can choose to be more aware of the specifics of our current environment.
Third, we can become more aware of our bodily sensations, the distinctiveness of this moment's "data" as awareness of our bodies.
Fr. Alexander Schmemann spoke glowingly of drinking orange juice as a human act that paralleled the Eucharist. He spoke about savoring the orange juice, making the ordinary act into a sacred act. Savoring and cherishing are part of taking delight in the present moment.
God has you and me right where He wants you and me. This is hugely liberating. We don't have to analyze, squint and squirm, or figure everything out.
By contrast, we can begin with the assertion that our time is not our own but the Lord's. We adjust our expectations. We ask, "Lord, what do You want me to do now?" Better said, "Lord, what do you want to do through me now? What kind of fire do you want to bring through my behaviors that will eventually make me more of a healing presence for others?"
If we are sensitive to each moment as God's moment, we can be grateful for interruptions, because God often moves in unexpected ways.
We have all the time we need to do all the things God has us here to do, in a peaceful way.
Suffering and Death
We simply try to be humble enough to know that there are some - no, many - questions we can't answer.
Our sufferings are not unknown to Christ and can be of great benefit to others and ourselves. We can become a healing presence simply by being alive, believing as best we can, and offering our sufferings to Christ.
We need to realize that we are going to die and that God will take care of us.
A tolerance for ambiguity is translated as (a) I know that I don't know; (b) I know that Christ knows; (c) I trust Him. That's the beginning of mental health, sanity, sanctity.
Embracing ambiguity requires an attitude adjustment. We need to drop our mental burdens and "cast our burdens on the Lord."