The Healing Touch


29 Jan 2015

Walking into St Ignatius Church today, I feel God. I breathe in and smell the polished wood. It makes me think of an ark that has never sailed. Where the light comes in, a rainbow forms. My elbows are bent in prayer, and a prayer forms in my heart like a girl’s piggy bank, filling slowly, little by little with change. Some candles flicker.

The white trams go past outside like mechanical swans, stopping to nibble by the side of the road. Seagulls and pigeons go hungry like our souls. There’s lots of things to see and do on Church Street.

There’s my work behind the church, opposite the school yard. There’s the food relief centre with its free food and depending on what mood God’s in there are the bells at noon, bells that send God’s laughter scattering in the sky, or his tears dripping from the trees.

There’s the psychologist over the road and the N.A (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting.

For every feeling there’s a reaction, and a satisfaction that comes with admitting my addiction. That’s my prayer today, in the church where I kneel and feel God’s concern: that I might come to learn what God wants for my life. For addiction is like throwing stones, it hurts others, it hurts you. Either way, someone gets hit by the stones.

I ask God to remove these shortcomings. I can’t live with the disappointment anymore. For years I slept with Rembrandt’s ‘prodigal son’ above my bed, and falling into God’s arms was a bit like falling out of bed. But Jesus is down with the man on the street corner with all his possessions in a plastic bag, with one long lock of hair on an otherwise shaved head, and with green demons tattooed on his face. But if you want healing you’ve got to start feeling, and I guess that’s what I’ve been afraid of. Feelings of sentimental love that I don’t even realise are emerging can sting like a bad case of sunburn. Feelings of worthlessness and shame, and a pain I carry inside myself like heartburn.

The psalms are the palms of God’s hands and they are his poems. When I read them I think how Israel can mean a whole nation and just one person all at the same time.

I am trying to pray more, for the right things like honesty and humility, and I feel part of humanity when I turn up to a N.A meeting and make a cup of tea and sit down and listen and hear something I’m missing.

In my prayer today I light a candle and take off my sandles, and the floor of the church feels cold in my socks, like a fishpond. Thoughts come to the surface, then disappear in the murkiness.

It’s my first day without cigarettes, without sugar and chocolate, without drugs and the world feels like a Persian rug pulled from under my feet. I’m not afraid to admit my powerlessness. I am powerless and afraid. Still it is only through prayer I can admit this, the first steps of a baby.

I still have thoughts to use, like a cockatoo that learns to swear at you. Praying might be the one thing that gets me staying clean, when nothing else has worked. To a wonderful counselor, an everlasting Father, a Prince of Peace.

A week or two later I came back to the same church, in the morning and the same rainbow was there.

Peta Edmonds is a writer and volunteer at Jesuit Communications
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