A new acquaintance of mine, who, I’m sure, will soon become a friend, told me about a healing experience that she had during her Christian worship service this past Sunday morning. The night before she sprained her ankle and went to the local hospital emergency room to see what was wrong. She was in a lot of pain and unable to put any pressure on it at all. It was only a bad sprain and she left the hospital with a walking boot on her foot.
The next day she walked into her worship service hobbling along on her new apparatus. During the pastor’s moving sermon, he said, “All you have to do to heal yourself is to give your bitterness over to Jesus.” As he continued to preach about some of the possible bitter experiences that people hold within themselves, she began to identify with the bitterness she held toward her former husband, her mother, her job and decided to let it go.
“I gave it to Jesus,” she told me. “I decided to let him take charge of it and not hang onto it anymore.”
“Then, I felt free and my ankle stopped hurting. I could take off my walking boot. I entered the church with a boot on and left the service with my boot off. I had given my pain and bitterness to Jesus,” she said. She then showed me that her ankle was now pain-free by moving up and down on her tip toes.
My son, who was witnessing our conversation, mentioned the yogic practice of saying “Svaha” as a person offers a rice/black sesame seed/raisin/ghee mixture, called “samagri,” into a fire during the traditional Vedic/Yogic fire ceremony. “It means the same thing,” Luke said. “It means all that is going on in my life, all the suffering and pain or joy, I now surrender to you, O God.”
Again, I am struck by the similarity of two worship services—one Christian and one used in the Yoga Tradition and in some Hindu services. Both actually fulfill a faithful intention of giving all to the Divine. Each is a powerful practice of surrendering all that one has going on in one’s life to the Divine and letting the Divine, whether that is called Christ or Agni or Brahman, have it and deal with it.
Maybe that is all we need do? However, there are two other elements involved in such a reality besides the faith of the person making the “offering of self”—a ritual service itself and a community of people who either publicly or privately witness that offering. In both ritual worship services, there is a community that supports and witnesses the participant’s desire for freedom from suffering.
I am convinced now that whatever people are suffering, by surrendering it in their worship services to their understanding of God, there is a power in that intention and in participating in such communal services/practices.
I pray to that Divinity within all of us!