Ceal and I did our first workshop together this year at SAYMA. It was titled "Holding Each Other In The Light - Quakers and Healing". We only had about 2 hours, and we planned to do a Meeting for Worship for Healing in the second half, so we had to fly through some of the material. We touched on healing as a tradition among Quakers and back to early Christians and the Israelites. To me, the highlight of the workshop was the meeting for healing. It was similar to ones I have experienced at the Gathering - larger and more intense than what we usually have in Atlanta. It never ceases to amaze me how well Quakers take to this kind of meeting - there was vocal ministry, singing, touching, hugging, tears and smiles. We had 5 young Friends in the meeting as well, and several of them really seemed to take to it. I can't describe the joy I felt at seeing that.
During the workshop, I read this entry from George Fox's Journal from the period 1648-1653, because it really speaks to me:
When they had haled me to the common moss side, a multitude following, the constables, and other officers gave me some blows over my back with their willow rods, and thrust me among the rude multitude; who having furnished themselves with staves, hedge-stakes, and holm or holly bushes, fell upon me, and beat me on my head, arms, and shoulders, until they had deprived me of sense; so that I fell down upon the wet common. When I recovered again, I saw myself lying in a watery common, and the people standing about me, I lay still a little while, and the power of the Lord sprang through me, and the eternal refreshings revived me; so that I stood up again in the strengthening power of the eternal God and stretching out my arms among them, I said, with a loud voice, ' Strike again; here are my arms, my head, and my cheeks.' There was in the company a mason, a professor, but a rude fellow, who with his walking rule-staff gave me a blow with all his might just over the back of my hand, as it was stretched out; with which blow my hand was so bruised, and my arm so benumbed, that I could not draw it to me again; so that some of the people cried, 'He has spoiled his hand for ever having the use of it any more.' But I looked at it in the love of God, (for I was in the love of God to them all that had persecuted me), and after awhile the Lord's power sprang through me again, and through my hand and arm, so that in a moment I recovered strength in my hand and arm in the sight of them all.
It isn't just that this is an example of the gift of healing, it also speaks to why our connection to God is so important in living out Jesus' commandments. George Fox stood up and essentially turned the other cheek - to use the more literal interpretation of that action. He was able to do this because he was strengthened by God. I believe this is why we need to take care to nurture our spiritual life - it gives us the strength and support to carry out what God asks of us.