by Peter Blood-Patterson
Meaning & Mystery
How do you understand the myriad of changes our bodies go through?
- Do you experience them as meaningful? random? confusing? mysterious?
- How do you understand God’s presence during illness, disability, the changes in capacities and gifts that come with aging, healing from illness, and our passage from this life?
Hearing God’s Voice
Do you feel that God speaks to you through changes in your body?
- Do you experience God as guiding you towards specific lifestyle or medical choices?
- Have you ever felt (as some early Friends did) that God was giving you a leading through being ill?
- Do you feel companioned or alone in living with such changes?
- Do you feel deeply known and loved by God?
- Have you experienced love as being powerfully healing?
Psalm 139 Psalm 33:22, 1 John 4:7, 1 Corinthians 13. Song of Songs is often interpreted as a metaphor for God’s love for us. Hosea is a great parable of God’s steadfast love for us.
Safety & Trust
- Do you feel you can lean into God?
- Do you feel you can lean into the love you feel from others?
- Do you feel that God is fundamentally trustworthy?
- Does the possibility of someday facing severe pain, life-threatening illness, or losing physical abilities frighten or worry you?
- Do you feel protected by God?
Exodus 19:4, Psalms 13, 22, 30, 62, 63, 102, 121, 131, Isaiah 40
God’s Role in What Happens to Us
- Do feel that God plans or causes changes that happen in your body?
- Does your belief / experience about this deepen or serve as barrier to your sense of faith and trust in God?
- Do you feel God can be both omnipotent and all-loving? If not, which way do you experience God more simply / unqualifiedly?
Job, Psalm 38
- Where do you experience healing coming from?
- From self-healing resources within your own and others bodies? From others’ love?
- From God? From the Universe?
- Do you experience bodies as having great, largely untapped self-healing or restorative capacities?
- If so, what unlocks these?
- Do you feel you have a gift for healing others or being a channel for healing energy?
- There are many healings by Jesus recorded in Luke. These highlight key dimensions of healing, ie.
- The role of spiritual authority: Luke 4: 31, 9:37, 13:10. The relationship with forgiveness 5:17.
- The role of touch & energy Luke 5: 12, 6: 17 & espec. 8:43 vs. Distance healing 7:1.
- “The Light of the body” Luke 11.33. “Your faith has healed you” Luke 17:11, 18:35.
- See also Psalm 30:2, John 14:12 (on doing even greater works than Jesus), Acts 3:1, 9:33.
- What do you hope for, yearn for or expect to happen when you pray for others?
- How do you pray for others? What do you ask for?
- Do you experience your prayers as being answered?
- What does it mean to pray for healing – in our own lives and bodies or for others?
- What do you experience as happening when Meetings hold others in the light or hold healing sessions?
- Is intercessory prayer the same thing as “holding someone in the Light”?
Many psalms are personal prayers for help – e.g. Psalms 6, 22, 41:1-3
Matthew 7:7, 17:29 & 21:21 (faith moving mountains), cf. John 14:12
- Do you feel protected by God in death?
- What do you think happens to us when we die?
- Do you feel God sets our lifespan for us?
- Do you anticipate (with Richard Hubblethorne) that you will be “wound into largeness” when you die?
- Do you know others who have experienced the kind of at-easeness that characterized many early Friends in the hour of death?
- Do you feel this way about death? If not, what difference would it make in your life if you did felt this way?
- Raising the dead: Luke 7:11, 8:40-56, John 11:1, Acts 9:36
- Jesus’ dying sayings: Matthew 27:46 (cf. Psalm 22), Luke 22:44; 23:46, John 19:30
- Paul on immortality: 1 Corinthians 15 (cf. Luke 20:34)
Peter Blood-Patterson is a member of Mt Toby Meeting in New England YM. He prepared these queries for the Quakers in Pastoral Care and Counseling gathered held at Richmond Indiana in March 2006 on the subject “We Shall All Be Changed: Experiencing God’s Love through Health Changes”