A recent issue of The Atlantic asked the question “What was the Greatest Gift of All Time?” Not surprisingly, people’s answer to that question was impacted by their experience. The director of philanthropic giving for The Smithsonian named James Smithson, who gifted his entire estate to ‘found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation named Edsel Ford’s gift to Detroit of Diego Rivera’s masterpiece Man and Machine. The columnist Amy Dickinson went big and small: She writes “God did send his only son to Earth to heal us. But then there’s the green Spyder bike my mom gave me when I was 8. I don’t put these gifts on the same level, but that bike was great." (“The Atlantic, December 2014)
Dickinson’s comments struck me in particular. Partly because I too would name a bike as one of the best gifts I ever received (mine happened to be a Schwinn Sting Ray with banana seat, mag wheel and ‘sissy bar’ in back). But also because I believe that healing might just be the best gift that God gives.
Over and over I have seen my own body and psyche heal from small and large hurts. Usually there is a scar of some sort, but healing as well. A friend speaks about the sexual abuse she suffered as a child in such a way that others are able to name their pain. She has healed from the trauma. Then most recently I heard of the death of a family friend. Her last years were not pleasant ones, as she and her family struggled with her Alzheimer’s. She was not cured, but she is now whole and healed.
With most of these injuries, there is a perfectly rational, scientific or therapeutic explanation for how recovery happens. I am grateful for the researchers and practitioners that help bring about healing using the best that science has to offer. But I also choose to believe that in and around our body and psyche’s natural regeneration is a Healer that I name God.
This Thanksgiving I am grateful for healing of all sorts. How about you? What is the best gift you ever received?