Opening The Black Box: Part 7

‘I won't take you fully into hypnosis,' he says. ‘Just a low level of consciousness.' ‘Okay,' I say, leaning back in a chair. ‘And I'll be following emotion, not imagination.' ‘Alright.' I'm already back at the hostel and losing it. He asks questions about what's happening, like he's walking close to me in a heavy fog and can't quite see. But the questions are so on the mark: not leading and not pushy: gentle and specific, appropriate, as if he's reading me. Meanwhile I'm answering the questions and getting deeper into the labyrinth of hostel. The yard, the kitchen, the dorm: everywhere except that late at night bathroom. Finally, a wall seems to come down. I'm terrified. He's asking more questions. ‘Where are you now?' ‘In a bathroom.' ‘What's happening?' ‘I have to wait here.' ‘What else?' ‘There's a door.' As I speak, the boy in me sees the door starting to open. ‘Who's coming through the door?' ‘An old man.' Fear is all I can feel; and the face of an angry stranger, radiating hate. Can't speak. ‘Look him in the eye!' I try but I'm paralysed with fear. ‘You have to look him in the eye, now!' Terrified, I look into the eye of the monster who always has his way. Something hits me: like a wave. The old man and the room vanish. A kind of sweet breeze seems to be everywhere. I'm back with the healer now, shattered but somehow floating in a joy that ripples out and out and out; and still ripples today in this other room; this writer's space of fifteen years later; of fifty nine years after the hostel. A great thorn has been pulled out. And me so grateful. We talk. ‘The boy in me has some questions,' I say. He answers my questions and offers me some advice. ‘We had a lot of help today,' he says. ‘So, I guess…' ‘It normally takes up to seven sessions to get where we got to,' he says. We talk some more. I'm feeling embarrassed. How come I get this gold card when so many others just don't? ‘I got some help today, too,' he says. I still don't know what to say. ‘I won't be charging you for this,' he says. ‘And you won't be needing to come back.' I find that hard to believe. We will have to wait and see. It all seems too good to be true. No medication. No repeat visits. No locked up. A year later I conclude that he was right. No medication. No repeat visits. No locked up. And I realise something else: my chest pains are gone. A fact that jogs my memory of another thread in this healing journey. For years I had been plagued with increasingly sharp chest pains, which have been going on for probably ten years. And me always putting them down to stress. ‘Just stress'. Finally, the doctor-avoiding-me, had gone the cardio route. Wired up. Monitored. Nothing. All good. Just stress. More chest pains. More wiring up. Monitored. Nothing. All good. So, about six months before the premonitions I had given in and followed the advice in the letter of James in the New Testament… ‘Is anyone sick? He should call for the elders of the church and they should pray over him and pour a little oil upon him, calling on the Lord to heal him.' (James 5:14) And there I was, the preacher getting past his own busyness and pride. I call my mates. ‘Would you guys be able to come over and do that praying and anointing?' ‘Sure Pete, glad to.' Two of them come. I sit on a chair in my lounge room. The normal, sensible questions are asked and answered. The oil is brought from the kitchen. I'm anointed. They lay hands on me and pray. Time passes. The pains come and go, come and go as usual. And I forget about the fact that they prayed for me. Tonight I'm thinking about that silly human pride thing where we say to the universe or to God or to the doctor… ‘Heal me with style or forget it!' The answer seems to come back as a question… ‘But what if your healing is going to involve a lot of common sense; like finding the right healers, like finding stepping stones across a swamp of uncertainty?' And tonight, I'm thinking again of the Syrian army general whose skin was also crawling, whose healer also refused to take any payment and who never had to see the healer again. And I'm thinking of the fight and the fun it was to get out of bed and to swim in the liquid blackness and the liquid gold of a God who pervades all things, visible and invisible. I'm so bloody grateful! And I love the way William Blake puts it when he says, ‘Good glows with the lineaments of gratified desire.' 4 4 CS Lewis (with Alistair Fowler) Spenser's Images of Life (Cambridge University Press, 1967, 2013 University Printing House, Cambridge CB2, UK) p. 95

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