Greeting to you all in this time of the sun reaching a peak in its swirl through our sky, of our nights responding like a good dance partner and offering its celestial counterpoint, filling in the spaces between...
We are in Brazil for solstice. It's our winter solstice. It's their summer solstice. There. Here. There's part of jet travel that's a miracle and part of it that's just odd. This will be two summer solstices in a row for us, which means that by the time we get to next June 21st that it will have been too summer solstices in a row.
But it also kinda makes sense. We're embracing the return of the Light to rebecca in her healing process, and in that scrum of growths and faith and disease and unease and Growth and healing, our winter solstice will be on the lightest day of the year. Anyway, we're going with it...
...already went with it, truth be told.
But you're not here to hear my musings on the reason for the season. You're here for cuteness that'll make you groan with pain and joy. So I present you w a photo of solas and Brigid, taken by their godmother this week:
It's a lot to handle.
We got into abadiania late Monday. Abadiania is walls painted solid in lively pastels, narrow roads that turn two way traffic into a gut-check, and sweet-sticky air carrying the sound of birdsong. Street dogs everywhere - we heard yips and barks approaching an intersection and soon saw a medium sized husky mutt pursuing two tiny wiener dogs across the street and out of sight...and then back into sight as six tiny wiener dogs pursued that same pooch back across the intersection. Felt like a good omen.
I think I've mentioned this before, but medium joao meets with people Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. There's a morning session and an evening session. People gather at 730am and 130pm to go in to see him.
So last Wednesday morning we went to the place where he interfaces with the public, a property of maybe five acres with the kind of sprawling open-to-the-elements ramshackle buildings that dot so much of central and south america. It's called "la Casa de Dom Ignacio" or "the house of st. Igantius"...or just "the Casa."
To give you a sense of the layout, there is a door at the back of the gathering hall that opens up into another large room called "the current room," which is where joao sits and the line of people engages with him. At the far end of the current room are two doors: one opens to the outside world, and one opens to a small room called the "surgery room" where people go to receive focused spiritual intervention, sometimes referred to as spiritual surgeries.
Outside of the gathering hall, volunteer translators are available to translate visitors' requests into portegeuse (joao doesn't speak in tongues). So Wednesday morning around 730 we got our translations and then I acquired a wheelchair that had been left behind from a previous visitor to the Casa. We then wheeled our way over to the section reserved for folks in chairs or on crutches, right up at the front.
And just to clarify, Rebecca was in a wheelchair not because she can't walk - she can. Her equilibrium is still a bit off so she's slow but is definitely mobile. She's in the chair because standing in line for a long time would be exhausting to her body, which had just finished recovering from all the excitement of last spring when this latest irruption of tumors in her brain showed up and started making waves.
So we're up there. And people are making announcements in portegeuse, English, and I think German. They begin the day with the our father and the Hail Mary and some other prayers (those were all in portegeuse), and then we sat and waited. Prayed on our own. Listened to the early morning breeze as it snooped about the room. Felt the energy of the place, which was palpable...it's hard to describe in words without selling it far short of what it was, so meet me halfway here...it was something like a nervous about-to-pull-a-bandaid-off energy mixed with that heart-pounding clarity of I'm-about-to-kiss-my-true-love-for-the-first-time in a spin cycle with the eye of the storm calmness that graces spiritually ecstatic experiences. Something like that. Not overwhelming though, like a healthy prairie fire.
As we sat with that, eventually they let a big mass of people who'd been standing in a line down the center of the gathering hall into the current room. Their job was then to sit in the current room and allow energy to move through them, as a way of supporting the healing that takes place.
A while after that, a couple announcements were made for various groups to proceed in: those that wanted to proceed directly to surgery and not present their requests to medium joao, those who were told last week to have a follow up this week, etc.
Eventually they called our group, and they let those of us in the less-able group file in first. As soon as I entered the current room, my hands and legs started shaking. Rebecca told me later that she immediately started crying tears of relief. The energy was described by our friend Rebecca Sutton as "a room that meditates you," and I now know what she meant. We walked/rolled the 100 feet or so until we were in front of medium joao. Our translator was there, we handed him our translations (because they do these for hundreds of pele a day they can't remember everyone without the notes) and he accompanied us the last few feet. He said some things to the medium, who gave Rebecca a beautiful smile of recognition as his eyes rolled into the back of his head and he told our translator something. The translator said to us, "surgery for her this afternoon, passiflora for you."
That meant I was to get myself some passionflower supplements from the herb store here, and take them three times a day as a means of supporting the healing I was asking for. And Rebecca....well, we were just so excited to be going right into it.
We came back in the afternoon, assembled in the great hall, waited until they called out for "people who were asked to come back this afternoon for a surgery." We again walked thru the current room, where this time my limbs were calm but it felt like moving thru molasses, and proceeded into the surgery room. I sat in a pew, Rebecca in her chair. We were with maybe thirty other people. A gentle-featured man with a soft voice asked us all to close our eyes and give the entities of light permission to work on us, and then went on speaking in Portuguese in a beautiful monologue that I can only sure was a guided meditation for the next 45 minutes or so.
As I sat, I immediately noticed that moving any of my limbs would take a lot of effort. Like having a cast on my arms and legs. Rebecca told me later that she fell very quickly into a very deep trance-like state, and felt a lot of light focused in her head, lungs and a spot on her spine. She said that she doesn't normally think of her lungs as being clogged, or not fully available in her breaths, but that during the surgery she felt a great many blockages removed from there and her head and took three deep breaths, deeper than anything she'd experienced in the last year.
I didn't know any of this inside, of course. We were silent, eyes closed. All I knew is that our host eventually asked us to open our eyes, and I wheeled Rebecca out into the sun, and I looked at her, and she nodded, and I sobbed without crying, and I knew. I knew that we were in the right place. I knew that the healing was coming, was here, was in process, was complete. I knew our prayers were being answered in the best possible way.
Since then, I've heard from more than one friend that they've dreamed themselves here with us. And I know so many more are here with us in moments of shared prayer, or song. On knees bent or legs dancing. In churches or sacred groves. Wading in the waters of the great oceans for a baptism of the heart, a renewal of the years.
It's a gift, and if this season means nothing else across different lines of faith and belief, may it be a season of giving. When solas was little, even littler than he is now, and it was the spring of the year, he fell asleep in his mother's arms. She handed him to me, and I put him down in our bed, and tucked the blankets up under his chin, and watched him sleep for awhile to make sure he was perfectly safe and totally well. And I remembered how good that used to feel. And I thought about how much I'd like to have someone 15 times my size pick me up from a nap and set me down gently in a bed the size of a house and tuck me in. And that will never happen for me again, much as I wished it would in that moment. And in the next moment I realized that the closest I can get to that is offering it to him. And realizing that I was giving him what I would love so much...it just made my heart swell with joy.
I recently got a different kind of gift from an old friend of mine, Laurel. She'd gotten in touch last spring as our little story spread across Facebook and like so many of you she has been supportive: praying, donating, lighting candles, spreading the word...and then she followed up with a note this fall saying that her best friend was diagnosed with a late stage cancer as well. Laurel said that seeing the way we've approached this inspired her to rally the faith and support of her community in a similar way. There's a small way in which we gave her and her friend something, and a much larger way in which it makes everything a bit easier on us to know that it's making anything easier on someone else.
So in this time of solstice, as we await the return of the sun king in all different forms, I can't help but think that part of the point of surviving the longest night is sharing with others how we got through it, and helping them along if we can.
We are blessed to be helped along on this journey by so so many. Thanks for being a light in the darkness: you light not only our path, but the paths of others walking similar roads.
Thanks for being.
We give thanks to the Creator
We give thanks for creation
For the air
For the spirit which animates all of life
We give thanks for the long darkness
We give thanks for the dawn
Because we know they are both gifts from you
The cup of our happiness is hollowed out by our hallowed tears
As Khalil Gibran spoke: our joy is our sorrow unmasked
We praise the One for this great dance
We offer gratitude for Rebecca's healing
We offer gratitude for the restoration of her eyesight
We offer gratitude for the ongoing health of baby solas
We pray that Rebecca be resorted to radiant health
We pray for her body to be clear of all tumors
We pray for the best possible outcome for all of her treatments
We pray for support and grace and health for her support team
In the name of the Nazarene healer, Jesus
In the name of our lady of the waters, mary
In the name of Your beloved of magdala, mary
In the name of the flaming heart of Brigid, alive in the night
In the name of Love
Oh perfectly present
Our perfect present
Our perfect Presence
Our perfect destination
Your will be done