Rev. Tina Walker-Morin
Pilgrim Congregational Church, UCC
October 25, 2015
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable to you O God, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
This morning I have a message for you on being well.
A couple of years ago, as one of my pastoral internships, I worked at Brooksby Village. Brooksby Village is a sister community to Linden Ponds down here on the south shore. During my time at Brooksby I was a member of the chaplains who were assigned to the assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. My job was to provide pastoral care to the residents of all faiths, whether it be Christian, Jewish, Unitarian Universalists, Catholic or agonistic.
My supervisor, Rev. Jan is a great chaplain, she pushed me way out of my comfort zone. Being a former art teacher, Rev. Jan used art as a way to connect with people. Before I started I did not think I had any artistic ability but she helped even me unlock my inner artist. So it is no surprise that Rev. Jan connected quickly with one resident, Nordia who used to be a fairly popular locally known water color artist.
Nordia was in the skilled nursing facility because of her advanced Parkinson’s disease. By the time I met her she could only say a few words and had to always stay in a wheel chair. Rev. Jan knew how much Nordia loved to paint and how she had to give it up once the tremors from the Parkinson’s prevented her from having the steady hand she need to do her beautiful watercolors. Even though years had gone by since Nordia had painted, Rev. Jan was determined to have her paint again.
Being the creative former art teacher that Rev. Jan is, she found a new medium for Nordia. It involved water color crayons. At first Rev. Jan would sit with Nordia and help her create new master pieces and then I was given the honor.
Before we would being painting, I would go into the kitchen there and grab a Styrofoam cup, tear off the upper half and fill it with about an inch of water. Then place the cup, the water color crayons, and paper on a table…with extra paper towels in case we made a mess. Then I would go find Nordia. Sometimes Nordia would be by herself in her room or sometimes in the activity room. I would see her from a distance, her short black and grey hair, not curled but straight, with her glasses sitting on the ridge of her nose just sitting in her wheel chair. I would walk up to her and place my hand on her shoulder and say “hello Nordia, would you like to paint today?” and her eyes would light up and a smile would come across her face.
I would wheel her down to the table I had set and sit right next to her, helping her little hands grip the crayons and leading them to the paper. Then the artist would take over making designs. Every so often she would stop sit back and look at what she had created. Art, if only for a moment, was stronger than Parkinson’s and made Nordia well.
Our passage today is about being made well. The blind man in the passage calls out to Jesus, “My teacher, let me see again.” Bartimaeus was likely the low cast, a blind beggar, a person that was overlooked by everyone. He is reaching out to Jesus and Jesus sees him. Jesus doesn’t just see Bartimaeus, he calls him over and says “Go, Your faith has made you well.” Well, Jesus says well, not healed, or cured but well.
When the bible was translated, the Greek word for well is also the same word that is used for save. Keeping that in mind, Jesus could being saying to the Bartimaeus, “Go, your faith has saved you”. So if we look at these two words interchangeably, well and saved, where does that leave us?
Well maybe this story is not about a person regaining sight, for Jesus did not say “because of your faith you can now see” but maybe this story is about wholeness and being well at our core, that our souls being well or being healed.
Today we often pray for miracles; Dear God please take away her cancer, or take away the paralysis…and sometimes miracles do happen but what if we are missing the point? What if curing our physical ailments is not the center or the point of Jesus’ miracles? What if the miracles are instead all about the people being made well or being made whole?
Dr. Caroline Myss, best-selling author of the book “Anatomy of the Spirit”, states that healing and curing are not the same thing. She says, “The process of curing is passive; that is, the patient is inclined to give his or her authority over to the physician and prescribed treatment instead of actively challenging the illness and reclaiming health. Healing, on the other hand, is an active and internal process that includes investigating one’s attitudes, memories, and beliefs with the desire to release all negative patterns that prevent one’s full emotional and spiritual recovery.”
This I believe is what Jesus is telling us. Jesus says to Bartimaeus “Go, your faith has made you well.” We all have something that is preventing us from being well. Maybe it is a physical ailment, a sprained ankle, arthritic hands or joints, bad eye sight, or maybe it is a psychological or emotional struggle like depression, anxiety or PTSD. Our society teaches us to keep whatever is preventing us from being well quite, or to suck it up and deal with it or to take a pill and get a cure. There are stigmas surrounding so many of our problems. Society is the same people, who in the scripture “sternly ordered him to be quiet” (v. 48). But Bartimaeus cried out even louder. He wanted to be made well.
Bartimaeus wanted to be active in being healed. He is reaching out for Jesus and releasing it to him. He is putting his faith into action. If we hand over what is keeping us from being well to God we too can be made well, we can be at peace and perhaps that is what being saved is all about.
Being well is not about the future, neither here on earth or after death, nor is wellness a cure; a cure from our depression, or arthritis, but maybe being well or saved is in our heart, mind and soul. And with God’s help we can be strong enough to be well. Wellness is keeping the faith, releasing whatever is blocking us from God and being made whole, being saved.
If you look at the front of your bulletin, that picture is one of Nordia’s that I was able to witness her create. For my dear friend Nordia, she was made well when she did art. Whether it was the beautiful water colors or the master pieces she made while in skilled nursing. Her heart and soul was at peace when she was painting.
So let’s release whatever it is that is keeping you from being well or being at peace. Give it to God and find what makes you well, what feeds your soul because as Rev. Denise Anderson says, “Christ’s wholeness trumps our brokenness.”
“Go, Your faith has made you well.”
 Myss, Caroline. Anatomy of the Spirit (Three Rivers Press, New York: 1996) 48.
 Denis Anderson www.revgalblogpals.com retrieved October 20, 2015.