In previous articles in this Healing Series we have looked at fascinating questions about What is healing and How it happens. Today we focus on one issue, a stony issue, at the heart of healing, the issue of "Allowing".
Wilt thou be well? Wilt thou be made whole?
The old English in the King James version of the Bible, John 5:6 has an almost mesmeric beauty and I make these comments not from the point of view as a scholar but as a Naturopath who notices references to healing wherever I go.
A disabled man had wanted healing, had wanted to be well, for 38 years and had waited near healing waters all that time. It was clear that healing had not happened and he could be waiting for the rest of his life.
And Jesus asked him, the Healing question, the Allowing Question – "Wilt thou be made whole?" And he was made well, he was made whole…
Allowing is Saying Yes to Health
The "Allowing" question – let me rephrase it as "Will you allow healing?" seems at once both unnecessary and even bizarre. A part of me wants to shout out "Of course he wants to be well", "He has waited for years and years for that very reason".
But, "Wilt thou be well?" acknowledges deeper reasons and currents within the disabled man. It honours his independence and also confronts him with the responsibility for his health.
For the purposes of this article it really does not matter whether his decision to allow healing healed him or as we say, "Jesus healed him".
"Wilt thou be well?" is asking for permission to heal; it is nudging the ill person to raise their game and it is not exactly the same question as shown in the NIV and other modern versions of John 5:6, "Do you want to get well?"
I cannot translate the original text so I do not know which of these phrases is the truer but I can comment on the words used and what they mean to me and to me these questions are fundamentally different
Allowing the healing to happen is the crucial step here. We have in our wonderfully complex nature powerful abilities for self-healing and these will work without any intervention by us.
Our wounds heal "By themselves" or "automatically" and this ability we have to heal ourselves goes on unremarked even though it is remarkable.
Our wounds, our cuts and bruises heal themselves because the cells are replaced with new cells. This wound healing, this maintaining of our status quo is called homeostasis in scientific terms but it is more familiarly called healing.
Remarkably our Skin cells replace themselves every 2 or 3 weeks and red blood cells every 120 days…nearly all the cells in our body are being replaced and reborn all on their own schedule and all happening automatically.
Why We Don't Heal
With so much natural healing occurring in our bodies it seem puzzling that we are not well all the time, and even odder that so many people are unwell.
Caroline Myss discusses this very point in her book, "Why People Don't Heal and How they Can".
It may be trauma that stops healing in its tracks. People can carry injuries for years after the incident that caused it. Many things that "just get better" for some folk don't get better for others.
When an injury has no particular emotional meaning then there is no barrier to healing and getting well is speedy.
But if there is a trauma, a fear or some other emotional "wound" along with the physical wound then the physical healing may not happen until the emotional wound is understood or removed.
"Wilt thou be well?" is asking where the wounded person is in their journey to healing. They may feel too raw and wounded to contemplate healing at that time and in that case there would be much resistance to getting well.
But if they have worked through the shock and the meaning of the incident and they are ready to heal then it can occur quickly and "effortlessly".
How To Heal
Now I'm thinking of my study and practise of Naturopathy. Part of that is the structure and functioning of the Nervous system. The automatic processes we have discussed earlier come under the "autonomic" nervous system and that has 2 main modes or to use the simile of a car, 2 gears.
One of those gears is engaged when we jump out of the way of a speeding cars or react to a sudden noise automatically or pull our hand back if we touch something too hot.
Often called "Flight or Fight!", it is our emergency gear.
Being able to jump away, get out of danger and keep safe is a vital part of our life but being able to relax afterwards and heal those injuries is vital too.
Simply put our body is either in emergency mode or it is in healing mode. We should only be in emergency mode for very brief periods and in healing and relaxation mode all the rest of the time.
But we can get stuck in emergency mode and live in it for years. We call it stress and almost get used to it. But the body suffers if we live in stress. Living like that our wounds cannot really heal properly and we can carry a condition for years or decades that could be healed in a few days if we were in Healing Mode.
As a naturopath my initial job is not to asses a person's diet or supplements, it is to help them get out of stress and into healing mode.
Once that is done, healing is easy. The body does it automatically and we just help it along with some supportive nutrients.
But we need to allow ourselves into healing mode; we have to realise that we got stuck in a place of danger but the danger has gone away and that now is the time to heal and to allow wellness into our life.
Healing sounds mysterious and difficult and allowing sounds easy and it all centres on how we answer a simple and deep question, "Wilt thou be well?"
Being healthy, being well is ultimately a decision we take.
Further Reading Caroline Myss, "Why People Don't Heal and How They Can"? available at all good book shops as well as Amazon