Sunday, October 07, 2007

Casting

When they called everybody with a disease to the front, I pondered and decided to go. I suffered from recurrent UTI's and was not sure that would qualify as a big enough disease for the healer to pay attention to, but I wanted so badly to feel God's presence, to have somebody show me the way. I was twelve years old at the time, on my first ever church retreat.

They made us stand in line, facing forward. The healer would move from each person to the next. He laid his hands on them, his booming voice invoking God's infinite power to channel through him and heal the wretched. People erupted in sobs and loud moans. Some fell to their knees, quivering in ecstasy.

I remembered seeing scenes like that before, when I was five and my neighbor took me to their Pentecostal church to perform a singing number we kids from down the street had been rehearsing for weeks in my neighbor's informal biblical school.

En la escuelita bíblica yo aprendí
que Jesucristo murió en la cruz...


My friend Denise and I stood backstage waiting for our turn while the service took place. At some point my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to take peek through the side door. It was not often that I had a chance to attend a church, much less a non-Catholic one. I was not prepared for what I saw. There were people wailing, screaming at the top of their lungs, jumping up and down the aisles, yelling words I had never heard before. Stunned and fearful, I refused to take part in our group's singing number. The ride back home was spent in silence.

The church's antics went unexplained. Our neighbor did not even address the matter and my mom shrugged off the whole incident. I never went back to my neighbor's biblical school.

Now I had a preacher standing in front of me, spewing rapid-fire invocations, laying the trinity of his index, middle and ring fingers on my forehead. In the short interval between him touching me and pronouncing me healed in the name of the Holy Spirit, I waited for the rapture that never came. Nothing felt different, I was not healed, my cup was not filled by the Lord.

While I tried to hide my disappointment, the preacher sensed that I needed encouragement, so he applied pressure on my forehead, pushing my head back while increasing the volume of his litany of praise. How could he expect me to fall to my knees? Did he not notice that Jehova had decided to pass on my miracle? I pushed forward, annoyed. He increased his pressure, but I did not budge. I lifted my head and looked him in the eyes. He held my gaze, briefly, before taking his hand off me and moving on to the next person in line. As soon as he touched her, she collapsed on the floor screaming, generously offering what I had been incapable of giving.

While the rest of the faithful joined in a tight circle around the girl with the demon inside, I hung my face down and slowly made my way out the chapel door.

15 comments:

  1. This was an amazing post. I enjoyed it very much. I have felt similar things in my time with religion and these things have changed my outlook on "organized religion", though I do still consider myself a spiritual person at best. Thanks for posting this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks. I am working through some memories, and using the posts to practice and try to improve my writing.

    I am still very ambivalent about spirituality. I don't think any of the paths I have walked held the answer for me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The only path that works for me is my path. My parents raised me to be catholic but I didn't follow their teachings and at age thirteen refused to join them at their church.

    I believe in God very strongly. If a religion points out why other religions are wrong then I question that faith. It divides rather than bringing people together.

    I hope you are healed of course and don't like to see anyone suffer.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks, Bobby. I think part of what put me off organized religion is that most of the varieties I was exposed to were the kind that condemned anybody who did not share their faith.

    Then there are the Unitarian Universalists, whom I courted for a while. They are admirable for wanting to be plural and inclusive, but I felt out of place with them because in terms of demographics and circumstance there were not many people like me in the church I visited.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've had a similiar experience when they were healing my grandmother...my grandmother truly believed and gave it her all...she was wheelchair bound and almost crippled herself further in an attempt to get up. My family had a difficult time recovering. I'm glad you chose to write about this event. I think many people will be able to relate to this.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Marie: that must have been really difficult for your family, especially your grandmother. Thank you so much for your comment.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I really liked this post Ingrid - excellent! I have very strong feelings about such questionable activities. I think you were the most honest one in the line. Certainly I believe that Our Creator has the power to heal, but I'm not nearly so sure that it's a "line up and fall down" thing! :-) Faith is really not something you can inherit, you have to find what is meaningful for you, on your own. I have walked quite a path with different religions and denominations and yes, even a stint with the Unitarian Universalists. I know what you mean. Now, I practice my own believes, which is a combination of many things... I prefer to call it spirituality. I find little comfort or faith in organized religion.

    ReplyDelete
  8. We keep finding things in common, Josie. I don't know that many people who have been with UU.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions! The Secret Rapture soon, by my hand!
    Read My Inaugural Address
    At = http://www.angelfire.com/crazy/spaceman

    ReplyDelete
  10. very nice post. I went to a church retreat type of thing with my mom and it was the same situation. He put his hand on my forehead and pushed me then seemed annoyed that I didn't fall. I saw no reason to I was a healthy girl in my 20's, why would I just fall down.
    Afterwards my mother scolded me for not falling downing and embarassing her in front of her friends.
    I forgot about that event until now.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well-written post, as usual. Interesting experience and one full of warning, I think.

    ReplyDelete
  12. wow! what a very moving post Ingrid. I enjoyed reading it very much. well written.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I seldom visit temples. I only believe in humanity. That is religion for me.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I always feel bad when some religions emphasize a spontaneous healing if only one would believe. This bs kept me from the Lord for many years. There is no doubt in my mind that it could happen, but I do not believe the fact it doesn't means the person does not believe or is not deserving. What a great post!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi, I found you through Slice of Life. What an interesting post! I am a very spiritual person and am not sucked in by the hocus pocus or the my way is the best way. Just reading the book of Romans did a great deal to set me in my own belief system. I have since read and reread the bible many times so I am not easily swayed. I really enjoyed reading this an I hope you find the beleif that is best for you!

    ReplyDelete