86: Spiritual Healing

86: Spiritual Healing

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles

Spiritual Healing

True healing involves body, mind and Spirit.

-Alison Stormwolf

I heard the patient voices of many people chanting, the slow, rhythmic beating of an Indian drum, a piercing screech of a passing Eagle, and I saw his face and what lay beyond his eyes. He is a Shaman, taught in the ways of the Santa Clara Pueblo and Mescalero Apache, and it is his beliefs that brought an understanding that day — the day we almost lost my brother.

“Everything that we cannot explain, everything we cannot understand, and everything we cannot put a name to makes up Creator,” the Shaman explained. I stared into his brown-flecked eyes, forgetting his roughed up appearance for a minute. I forgot that he needed to shave the darkening stubble off his narrow face and round chin. I forgot that he needed to comb his curly dark hair, which fell just below his shoulders.

His curls partly covered a hand-beaded feather—white and grey They also masked the three earrings he wore in only one ear: two turquoise and silver studs, one dangling silver feather. He is always covered with jewelry. He loves it. Square-cut turquoise rings sat on the middle finger of his right hand. Three other silver rings encircled his fingers close by. An amber necklace as large as the paw of a mountain lion blended with his medicine pouch. They rose and fell on his chest as he prayed. I smelled burning sage.

I was eighteen and living in Southern California when my family got the call that my brother in Oregon had an industrial accident at work. The doctors told us he was not going to live. I had already decided he was dead. That’s how bad my grief had been. The trauma to his head was so bad that his body and mind went into a coma.

I remember his room in the Intensive Care Unit was so sterile, so blank. White walls, white bed sheets, white floor. It was so startling. Life is supposed to have color. I stared at my brother, lying silently in his bed, half propped up as if he were in a good position to watch a game on the television. His head was swollen to his shoulders.

A tracheotomy tube stuck out of his throat below his chin and was attached to one of the many machines beeping consistently in his room. There were two IVs in one arm, and one in the other, and fixed into the top of his head were two of the cruelest, coldest wires I had ever seen, monitoring what brain waves they could find. The machines continued to beep bitter automated beeps. Where was my twenty-year-old brother in all of this? Where was he while his body looked like this and the machines had control of his life?

Now the Shaman had stepped into this room full of horrors.

“Eagle is the direct messenger to Creator and his people,” he explained. “Prayers offered and spoken with an Eagle’s feather go swiftly up to Creator. The sacredness of this animal and all its parts is to be deeply respected always.” I wondered at the Shaman’s knowledge at his thirty years of age. No college degree, no full-time job with benefits, no trace of disdain or worry on his face. He gives it all to Creator when he has to. He can stand in his cut-off jean shorts, faded black X-Men T-shirt, and leather sandals, and give all his sorrow, pain, and despair back to Creator. This is what he does.

I watched him perform the simple ceremony in the Intensive Care Unit of the Oregon hospital. My injured brother’s own medicine pouch lay wrapped around his ankle, the only available place left on him to put it. The tiny, leather fringed pouch so brown against his pale white skin, sat as his anchor, the stuff within it put there by him. The pouch is him. I saw the Eagle’s feather come out of the Shaman’s bag. It was almost three inches long, two inches wide, with a quill that had been encircled by beading in a zigzag pattern of silver, black, and red. He began to run this silken feather up and down my unconscious brother’s body, praying as he did so. He chanted in almost silent whispers. I began to pray silently to myself as he worked.

“When there is trauma to the head so bad that a man becomes unconscious, it is believed that the soul leaves the body. It then becomes vulnerable to any outside forces that wish to come and fill the vacancy The medicine pouch is our protection. It is our anchor for our soul,” the Shaman explained. His strong words of clarification prevented the hospital staff from removing the pouch from my brother’s ankle.

The doctors had no hope and told us what they felt was the truth. It was unlikely my brother would survive. The two-ton pipe that landed upon his face would take not only his life, but my family’s as well.

The whole week the Shaman stayed, brushing his prayers over my injured brother’s body. It was my mother who called the Shaman to help my brother’s injured body and disconnected spirit.

The Shaman is my oldest brother Lael, and although I don’t understand how our injured brother was able to wake up within a week of his horrific accident, he did with our brother chanting next to him.

The doctors were astonished. He came back to us, minus his sense of smell and the vision in his left eye. There is no answer to how he survived when things were so dark and hope was almost gone.

The look in Lael’s eyes tells me enough, however — that Creator heard the prayers. So today, my brother lives and my oldest brother dances.

~Melissa Maglio

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