Reprinted With Permission from 'One in Spirit' Magazine in which it appeared in the March 2003 edition.
THE MIRACLE OF FAITH
"Why is it so difficult for us to have faith? The answer is simple enough. We are so weighted with experiences that contradict faith. It is not easy to turn from negative conditions to a positive faith in God. Carefully we should cultivate the smallest spark of faith and we should always be reminding ourselves that there is a power upon which we may rely". Ernest Holmes
" That lump on your back is a lipoma," said Dr. John Strobis my primary care physician that I see every two years just to know that I'm fine "If it starts to get bigger and hardens, that would be reason to be concerned."
Those were some of the words that I thought about as I lay on the gurney in Abadiânia, Brazil awaiting "surgery". My lipoma, which I had for 23 years, had grown from the size of a squishy marble on my lower back just to the left of my spine, to an ever spreading mound which had started to harden. In the two years I had seen Dr. Strobis, the lipoma seemed to have doubled in size and hardened. The lipoma, even in its early stages was dangerously near my spine, and that had been the reason why I had never had what was then an elective procedure. Now the words "inoperable" and "potential paralysis" wandered in and out of my mind, like clues in a TV game show. My intuitive diagnosis was later confirmed by a Canadian physician who witnessed the entire procedure.
So here I was in a relatively obscure place in central Brazil, two hours away from the nearest big city, Brasilia, and in the middle of the Brazilian jungle. The "surgeon" had never had more than a second grade education, didn't plan to use anesthesia, and had instruments that were nothing more than a possibly sterilized scalpel and unsterilized forcepts. There were no IV's, no white clad nurses and interns with clipboards no blood pressure readings or pre-op preparation. Indeed I wondered when I volunteered to have this "visible" surgery, whether I would feel the pain.
But the "surgeon" who had come to be known as John of God, had healed more than 13 million people. John of God, born Joao Teixeira de Faria, nearly 62 years ago, is a trance medium whose consciousness is literally taken over by Spirit. In this case, Spirit expresses itself through the more than 33 different energies ranging from St. Francis Xavier (my surgeon) to Dr. Oswaldo Cruz (a pioneer in the cure of yellow fever) to Dr. Valdevino (a bone surgeon). John of God never claims to heal anyone - but firmly states in his conscious state that "it is God that does the healing, not I". And he has never charged a penny for his work.
The surgery took less than 10 minutes, and a month later I had the opportunity to watch it on the videotape that had been shot. I watched as he made the incision and remembered I that I could feel a bit of a "razor cut", but afterwards, all I could feel was a tugging and a probing, which I later saw was John actually putting two fingers and his thumb into the wound, and appearing to break up the adhesions which seemed to bind the tumor to the spine and body. As I watched the videotape later, I saw that he began cutting out small pieces of the tumor, and then eventually pulled the remainder of it like some fleshy root - as it came out in one long thick piece. I could see that what he had removed would have filled most of a coffee cup.
Throughout the entire procedure, I felt no more discomfort than what I might experience with a mild sunburn. As I lay face down on the gurney with the surgery being done, I felt total peace. I had known all along the reasons I had come to Brazil - to deepen my relationship with Spirit. Yes, there had been the removal of the tumor, but the most important message I received that day was the deepening of my faith in Spirit. After all, it is the Spiritual body which creates the physical, and as what was is said in Hebrews - "things that are, are not created by things that do appear."
The operation was over quickly and it was strange to have been awake and imagining what was going on. I lay face down with the wound draining for about an hour - with nothing more than "holy water" used to cleanse it. It was as if nothing had happened - my back felt perfectly normal, and I wished I could jump off the table and celebrate. It was then that the Canadian physician came and explained what he had seen, and indicating that John of God would not "stitch" the wound since it was so close to the spine, but rather it would just drain and a dressing put on it.
Two hours later, I was back in my pousada, feeling elated, grateful and in wonderfully radiant health. I periodically remembered that I had just had a major operation, and that I should continue to put holy water on it. The next day, they changed the dressing, and the wound had almost healed shut. Two days, with continued applications of holy water, it had healed to what appeared to be a small scratch.
As I sat with others who had come to Abadiânia for both spiritual and physical healings, I shared the miracles of life and spirit. There was a woman from Boston with stage 4 pancreatic cancer who began to reverse it, another from Vermont with systemic sclerosis that had virtually shut down her kidneys and attacked her heart. A third woman on the brink of death who had recovered from AIDS.
But I also saw God's miracles with my friends as well. A young parapalegic woman who I knew for years, on her final day, was able with assistance to take her first steps. She had been thrown from a car when it hit a tree, and it had bounced off and run over her lower back. Dr. Mary Jo Van Dam, who had a "hunchback" condition for 60 years, because of childhood scoliosis, in a divine instant found her back straightened. Rev. Jerry Rance could take his first deep breath since his open-heart operation, as the minute leaks in his heart valves seemed to be sealed. And more importantly, he experienced his first week of having a deep sleep in more than 5 years since a possibly enlarged prostate required him to make hourly trips to the bathroom.
The experience of Abadiânia underlines the importance of faith. We see miracles even in the most humble blade of grass, the insects we consider pests, and the sunshine which we often complain is too hot. These miracles are so incredible that we often can't relate these to the rest of our lives, and we sometimes have to see physical healings in people to understand the magnitude and wonder of Spirit. In Abadiânia, faith and awareness of Spirit seeps into you.
When someone asked me what was the most important gift I received from my trip, I unhesitatingly answered, "before I went, I would consciously remind myself to 'practice the Presence'. After I returned, I didn't have it - it had become an integral part of me without even having to wonder about it."