What an amazing few weeks it has been, with the holidays flying by, the inauguration in DC, and people gathering to march in protest. As Charles Dickens would have said: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, …” (A Tale of Two Cities, Para. 1, Line, 1).
This week, I would like to write about what each person can bring to this historic time. We each have been given gifts, and now is the time to know what they are, and to use them for the good of all. My reflections on divine gifts stem from my recent interest in a book called, “Medical Medium”, written by Anthony William.
Anthony was awakened one morning, when he was four, by a disembodied voice saying, “I am the Spirit of the Most High. There is no spirit above me but God.”
When Anthony was old enough to ask the Spirit about its nature, the Spirit described itself as “a word.”
“Which word?” Anthony asked.
“Compassion,” the Spirit replies, “I am literally the living essence of the word compassion.
I sit at the fingertip of God… At the fingertip of God sits a word, and that word is compassion. I am that word. A living word. The closest word to God.”
Since then, Anthony has had the gift of Compassion, speaking by his right ear, of all the suffering of the human race, and how to help them heal. What an awesome gift and an awful burden that is.
I hope we will be aware of our own gifts, and of how we can live to be worthy of them.
Since Anthony William was four years old, he would awaken each morning to a voice, by his right ear, that said, “I am the Spirit of the Most High. There is no spirit above me but God.”
This voice called itself “a word” and that word was Compassion.
From that day on, this spiritual voice has taught him daily, about all the health problems of everyone he encounters and how they can be healed.
Isn’t that wonderful? Well, no, not from his perspective.
By the time he was ten, he climbed some of the highest trees he could find, to get as close to God as possible, to carve messages on their trunks:
“God, I love Spirit, but it’s time we cut out the middle man.”
“God, why do people have to be sick?”
“God, why can’t you fix everybody?”
“God, why do I have to help people?”
“God, please give me back silence.”
“God, I don’t want to hear Spirit anymore. Make him go away.”
As he carves the words, “God, let me be free,” he nearly loses his foothold and almost falls off the tree. Not that kind of free! He thinks, as he inches his way back down to safety.
His experience reminds me of the story of Jonah and the whale, where Jonah was asked by God to go to Nineveh, to preach to its people to repent, and Jonah tried to escape his call, by taking a ship going to Tarshish instead. That was when God transported Jonah back to Nineveh by Whale and the reluctant prophet saved the city from destruction.
At first, I could not relate to Anthony or Jonah. They are a people and a world apart from the world I live, breathe, and work in. No one bothers to talk by my right ear, and God hasn’t called me to save a city. I am just a nobody. They are special, with special missions, and well, I’m not.
But then, I remembered all the times I tried to run away from being a psychiatrist.
Once, I spoke to the head of the English department at Hopkins and the psychiatrist married to Anne Tyler (writer of The Accidental Tourist), all in one week, because I was ready to leave psychiatry behind, and begin my training in creative writing.
I got nowhere with either of them.
Then there was the time I took a creative writing class at Hopkins, and my husband printed copies of my story for the class in a strange, illegible format that left out much of the spacing and punctuation, and I didn’t know about it until the day it was being discussed by the group. I was horrified and mortified. God delivered me back to psychiatry via Whale.
Not one to give up easily, I morphed my psychiatry practice in 2002 through orthomolecular/functional medicine, and then morphed it again in 2003, through energy medicine, shifting my work from one role to another entirely, twice in two years. I joke to myself that I am the only psychiatrist that changed my job description twice in two years and still ended up as a psychiatrist. So, yes, I guess I do relate, a little, to Anthony with his tree carving experience and Jonah with his Whale experience.
But, then I think to myself that I can’t relate to them, and therefore, am not really called or gifted, because Anthony probably has a waiting list about 10 years long—or no waiting list, because he’s too busy giving conferences to adoring admirers—and Jonah successfully saved the whole city of Nineveh. I feel rather sorry and maybe even a bit ashamed of myself for helping just one person at a time, and sometimes failing to help even that one person.
But then, a little voice pops into my head and says, “But your work is different.” I agree. The people I see need a different healer, with a different set of skills and life experiences. So, that’s where I come in—made to fit the needs of those I serve—compassion manifesting in another form, on another path, but with healing as its focus, nonetheless.
Where did I run across the words “different but equal”? Was it at a recent movie I just saw?
Ah, yes, at the movie, “Hidden Figures”, where three African American women broke barriers at NASA, as pioneers in their careers, overcoming prejudice and bigotry with such power and courage. It was great to hear the audience clapping for them when they overcame their challenges.
What if they thought of themselves as “nobodies”?
What if they looked at others who had achieved before them and thought themselves unworthy and simply stood in envy of those in the limelight?
They would not have taken their gifts and used them to live their own courageous stories. And how beautiful each story was…
Did they save Nineveh? No.
Nineveh only needed to be saved once.
Did they give conferences to adoring crowds? No.
Well, the adoring crowds at the movie theaters may beg to disagree . . . but, the point that I’m trying to make is that they are just who they are, wearing their high heeled shoes and getting their hair wet in the rain, running from one end of the compound to the other, just to go to the segregated bathroom. Yet, when their stories are finally told, even the bathrooms become significant.
We each have our own stories to tell, our own callings to follow, and our own missions to fulfill.
Though you may wish to be someone that you have put on top of a pedestal, you cannot escape your calling, and along with your calling, God’s gifts to help you make it through.
These gifts may not be in the form of a voice by your right ear, telling you of humanity’s illnesses, but you will be guided nonetheless. You may wish the universe would free you from your path, from both your gift and your burden, but the universe will refuse you a refund.
It’s your gift, whether you like it or not.
What are your gifts?
What sacrifices have you made in your life?
What do you embody?
What have you wished to be free from, yet Life has always returned you to it, again and again?
This is your story, and it will be a beautiful one, because you are also a living word on the fingertip of God.