Little girl, I tell you ‘get up’

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11 Jul 2018

Earlier this month I went to Our Lady of Victories’ Church [Camberwell, Victoria] for Mass as I have decided to join the choir. Sitting up in the gallery, I looked down and saw only a small number of people scattered across the pews. It is regretful that not more attend to celebrate the Eucharist in this magnificent architectural work of art and to enjoy the music from the choir, for which I might add I contribute but little. I just like to sing praises and pleas to God. What struck me most that day was the Gospel reading and the homily.

The Gospel reading was about the woman with the haemorrhage and the 12-year old girl who was raised from the dead (Mk 5:21-43). As I listened to Fr Brendan Reed’s homily, I knew that God meant for me to be there, he led me to listen to Fr Brendan’s words. This was God’s answer to my cries for help. Strangely for all its impact on me, I can only remember a few words – projects, disappointments, darkness and being raised up. At another difficult time in the past, the words of the song, ‘You Raise Me Up’ touched and raised me. Often I do not hear God’s reply during my prayer times but his responses come in other ways outside of prayer-time.

I have had a disappointment, about which I prayed for some time. I brought it to Jesus in prayer, and heard the words, ‘Blessed are the unacknowledged.’ I brought it to Jesus who was betrayed and denied by his friends and understood what he must have felt more than I did before.

I tried Martin Laird’s suggestion in Into the Silent Land:

The skill of observation and discernment, which the ancients call ‘vigilance,’ has three elements. First, turn around and meet the afflictive emotion with stillness. Without a dedicated practice, this won’t be possible. Second, allow the fear [disappointment] to be present. Third, let go of the commentary on the fear [disappointment]. This third element is the most challenging.

The third step was indeed challenging. Shall I take it lying down or shall I stand up for myself? Eventually, at a friend’s prompting, I decided to stand up for myself, which resulted in anxiety about rocking the boat. I was reminded of the story of the monks.

Two Buddhist monks, on their way to the monastery, found an exceedingly beautiful woman at the river bank. Like them, she wanted to cross the river, but the water was too high. So one of them took her across on his shoulders. The other was thoroughly scandalised. For two hours, he scolded the offender for his breach of the Rule … the victim took it gamely. At the end of the lecture, he said, “Brother, I dropped that woman at the river. Are you carrying her still?”

Another way the story could have ended is that the monk who carried the woman continued to think of the experience of carrying her instead of being able to let her go straightaway. I tried to apply it to my situation. I thought of carrying the woman across the river as carrying out the need to stand up for myself and having done so, I will let the matter go. The story also tells me that I must not be like the monk who did not carry the woman but focused on the other monk’s ‘sin’ for breaking the rules.

My thoughts whirled around to different ways of coping with the unpleasant situation. I tried another practice, meeting the afflictive thoughts with the Jesus Prayer, ‘Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

That day, at Our Lady of Victories, Jesus brought me to one of my favourite passages on healing. I used to identify with the woman with the haemorrhage literally as suffering from heavy menstrual flow but haemorrhage can also mean losing our vital juices, being drained of our essence. Negativity can cause me to become ‘dead’. The experience had also felt like the weight of the cross causing me to fall. Jesus’ words, talitha kum, help to raise me up. To me, this passage is one of the best for application of our inner sense of touch, touching Jesus’ cloak. Sometimes, physical contact, touch is needed. There was no physical contact that day but a healing, spiritual touch and a gentle command, talitha kum. ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’

Susie Hii is a writer and author of Happy, Healthy, Holy.
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