March 2006 Archives

QPCC Healing Bibliography

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 We Shall All Be Changed: Experiencing God's Love through Health Changes

Quakers in Pastoral Care & Counseling Conference

Quaker Hill, Richmond, Indiana  March 30-April 2, 2006




Quaker Perspectives

Living & Health: A Personal Account by Bill Ratliff

Bill originally wrote this account for his family about his experience with cancer and the approaches he has been using to deal with it.

On Praying for Others - and Ourselves by Peter Blood

Willingness and Health by Peter Blood

Holding One Another in the Light, by Marcelle Martin

Praying for each other - intercessory prayer - deepens our connection to God and helps bring healing to individuals & communities. Marcelle's pamphlet is a personal account of her discovery of & experiences with intercessory prayer. It describes the many forms this takes among Friends today, from meetings for healing to a prayerful witness for peace on earth. (Pendle Hill Pamphlet #382, 2005)

4 other Pendle Hill Pamphlets dealing with these issues:

Profession and Practice: Quaker Perspectives on Healing as Ministry, by Maureen Flannery MD (#363, 2002)
Gift of Days: Report on an Illness, by Mary Morrison (#364, 2003)
Sickness, Suffering, and Healing: More Stories from Another Place, by Tom Gates (#341, 1998)
A Song of Death, Our Spiritual Birth: A Quaker Way of Dying, by Lucy Screechfield McIver (#340, 1998)

George Fox's Book Of Miracles

Edited by Henry Cadbury, Foreward by Rufus Jones. The founder of Quakerism was a healer as well as a powerful writer, preacher & religious leader, manifesting this gift in over 150 recorded instances of cures. These miracles were critical to spreading the word about Quakerism in the initial years. New introductions by Paul Anderson and Jim Pym help readers appreciate the place of this material in the overall understanding of Fox's contributions to Quakerism.
Available from QuakerBooks.

Christian Perspectives

Living Through Pain: Psalms and the Search for Wholeness, by Kristin M. Swenson

Bill Ratliff writes that "This is the best book I have found on pain and suffering. The first three chapters deal with the problems of pain and understanding it. Then she looks at six Psalms in successive chapters and draws out the various ways that the psalmists dealt with this difficult subject. Surprisingly, but realistically, the Pslams contained no common approach." (Waco,TX: Baylor U. Press, 2005, hardcover).

4 books by Gerald May MD

Jerry May was a psychiatrist on the staff of Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation for many years until his death from cancer in 2005. His books are not on healing issues per se but they explore better than any other books I (Peter) am familiar with the ways that spirituality, mind & body are deeply interwoven - issues that are at the heart of the ideas I will be presenting at QPCC in March.

  • Will & Spirit: A Contemplative Psychology (1982)
  • Addiction & Grace (1988)
  • The Awakened Heart: Opening Yourself to the Love You Need (1991)
  • The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness & Spiritual Growth (2004)

Honoring the Body: Meditations on a Christian Practice, by Stephanie Pausell

The final chapter of this 2002 book by a Protestant theologian is on "honoring the suffering body." The book concludes: "Through the vulnerability of our bodies, God has given us into the care of one another. What tender responsibility. What joy, what pain. Thanks be to God."

Other Religious Traditions

Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness, by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Kabat-Zinn is founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic and director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care & Society at U. Mass Medical Center. Workshops on mindfulness as a way to improve patient care, reduce professional stress and suppport patient healing are being taught at many medical centers around the country.

Other books by Kabat-Zinn:

  • Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

Here's the Buddhist book that Bill and I both like (he used it in his ESR death and dying course and I have given it to friends who are dealing with loss as well as used it myself):

Facing Death and Finding Hope: A Guide To The Emotional and Spiritual Care Of The Dying, by Christine Longaker (1997)

A Buddhist book that is helpful in dealing with losses and facing the possibility of one's own or a loved one's death. A good related website

A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last, by Stephen Levine

A friend of Maureen Flannery MD suggested that her friends read and meditate with this 1997 book as a way to support her through the process of living with and dying of cancer. Stephen Levine and his wife Ondrea have written many other books on dying and grief from a Buddhist perspective. The most recent is Unattended Sorrow: Recovering from Loss and Reviving the Heart (2005). He is also the author of Who Dies?.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Harold Kushner

This 1981 classic and other books by a liberal Jewish rabbi offer useful approaches to dealing with suffering and tragedy. Maureen writes that Kushner's emphasis on "when" not "why" has been helpful to her in dealing with pain and loss in her work and her life.

My Grandfathers Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging, by Rachel Naomi Remen

Remen is a physician who brings to her work with dying patients her grounding in Judaism andher own experience of living with a serious chronic illness. Both this 2000 book and Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal, her earlier 1996 book, contain wisdom about self-care for those of us involved in the work of care giving and healing.

Medical Science & Healng

Reinventing Medicine, by Larry Dossey MD

Dossey talks about our just entering into the era of nonlocal medicine where healing is done at a distance. Citing the 150 studies done on the healing effects of prayer at a distance, he posits a new paradigm for healing that takes seriously the human conscious and its participation in a universal conscious. This is beyond the mind-body paradigm and is exciting and challenging to conventional modes of healing. One physician, upon hearing Dossey speak, said, "If what you say is true, then we doctors could be sued for medical malpractice if we do not pray for our patients!"

Also by Dossey:

  • Healing Words: The Power of Prayer & the Practice of Medicine (1993)
  • Prayer Is Good Medicine: How to Reap the Healing Benefits of Prayer (1996)

Speaking of Faith: Stress & the Balance Within

The American Public Media show Speaking of Faith recently featured a leading rheumatologist, Esther Sternberg MD, who has grown over the years to become convinced of the interconnectedness of spirituality and physical healing. You can download this show and listen to it from the show's website.

In her book, The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health & Emotions, Sternberg explores recent developments in science and medicine that provide support for understanding the ways in which bodies respond to spiritual work and issues. Here is a review of the book.

Love, Medicine & Miracles: Lessons Learned about Self-Healing from a Surgeon's Experience with Exceptional Patients, by Bernie Siegel MD
Another one of the "classics" of the field - this one from 1986. Siegel is a surgeon who was deeply moved by the emotional and spiritual transformation that many of the cancer survivors he worked with went through. My (Peter's) ambivalence with his ideas is that those with life-threatening illnesses may end up feeling they have "failed" if they do not experience healing through these approaches. Peace, Love & Healing: Bodymind Communication & the Path to Self-Healing: An Exploration (1989) is another of Siegel's books.

Here's an online article by Siegel entitled "Accept, Retreat & Surrender: How to Heal Yourself" that summarizes pretty well some of his basic ideas.

Getting Well Again by O. Carl Simonton MD, Stephanie Matthews Simonton & James Creighton PhD (1978)
Over 20 years ago, the Simontons (a physician couple at the time) began experimenting with using guided imagery, relaxation techniques & meditation as a way of fighting cancer. Carl Simonton's latest book, The Healing Journey, focuses heavily on the personal account of one cancer patient, Reid Hansen.

The Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing & Regeneration, by Norman Cousins
This 1979 book by a well-known journalist on his successful fight against a cripplling disease was the first best seller on mind-body connections. Cousins used his body's own natural healing resources in overcoming his illness in close collaboration with his physician. One of the main things he did was watch hundreds of hours of comedy films.

Healing queries

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Reflection Questions

Experiencing God's Love through Health Changes



How do you understand the myriad of changes our bodies go through?  

Do you experience them as meaningful?  random?  confusing?  mysterious?

How do you understand God's presence during illness, disability, the changes in capacities and gifts that come with aging, healing from illness, and our passage from this life?


Do you feel that God speaks to you through changes in your body? 

Do you experience God as guiding you towards specific lifestyle or medical choices? 

Have you ever felt (as some early Friends did) that God was giving you a leading through being ill?


Do you feel companioned or alone in living with such changes?

Do you feel deeply known and loved by God? 

Have you experienced love as being powerfully healing?

Psalm 139, 33:22, 1 John 4:7, 1 Corinthians 13.  Song of Songs is often interpreted as a metaphor for God's love for us.  Hosea is a great parable of God's steadfast love for us. 


Do you feel you can lean into God? 
Do you feel you can lean into the love you feel from others?

Do you feel that God is fundamentally trustworthy? 

Does the possibility of someday facing severe pain, life-threatening illness, or losing physical abilities frighten or worry you? 

Do you feel protected by God?

Exodus 19:4, Psalms 13, 22, 30, 62, 63, 102, 121, 131, Isaiah 40


Do feel that God plans or causes changes that happen in your body? 

Does your belief / experience about this deepen or serve as barrier to your sense of faith and trust in God?

Do you feel God can be both omnipotent and all-loving?  If not, which way do you experience God more simply / unqualifiedly?

Job, Psalm 38


Where do you experience healing coming from?

From self-healing resources within your own and others bodies?  From others' love? 
From God?  From the Universe?

Do you experience bodies as having great, largely untapped self-healing or restorative capacities?  
If so, what unlocks these?

Do you feel you have a gift for healing others or being a channel for healing energy? 

There are many healings by Jesus recorded in Luke.  These highlight key dimensions of healing, ie.
The role of spiritual authority  Luke 4: 31, 9:37, 13:10.   The relationship with forgiveness  5:17.    
The role of touch & energy  5: 12, 6: 17 & espec. 8:43   vs.   Distance healing  7:1.
"The Light of the body" 11.33.  "Your faith has healed you"  17:11, 18:35.

See also Psalm 30:2, John 14:12 (on doing even greater works than Jesus), Acts 3:1, 9:33.


What do you hope for, yearn for or expect to happen when you pray for others?

How do you pray for others?  What do you ask for? 

Do you experience your prayers as being answered?

What does it mean to pray for healing - in our own lives and bodies or for others? 

What do you experience as happening when Meetings hold others in the light or hold healing sessions?

Is intercessory prayer the same thing as "holding someone in the Light"?

Many psalms are personal prayers for help - e.g. 6, 22, 41:1-3

Matthew 7:7, 17:29 & 21:21 (faith moving mtns), cf. John 14:12


Do you feel protected by God in death? 

What do you think happens to us when we die? 

Do you feel God sets our lifespan for us?

Do you anticipate (with Richard Hubblethorne) that you will be "wound into largeness" when you die?

Do you know others who have experienced the kind of at-easeness that characterized many early Friends in the hour of death? 

Do you feel this way about death? If not, what difference would it make in your life if you did felt this way?

Raising the dead: Luke 7:11, 8:40-56,  John 11:1,  Acts 9:36

Jesus' dying sayings: Matthew 27:46 (cf. Psalm 22),  Luke 22:44; 23:46,  John 19:30

Paul on immortality: 1 Corinthians 15 (cf. Luke 20:34)

(c) Peter Blood-Patterson, prepared for the Quakers in Pastoral Care and Counseling gathered held at Richmond Indiana in March 2006

Body Prayer

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An exercise for bathing a part of one's body in the Light / Spirit / Ocean of Love

(Note: I will use the language of "God" as it is very comfortable for me, but please translate my words into whatever works well for you - e.g. Light, Spirit, Jesus, Lord, Ground of Life, Great Heart. - Peter)

Setting: You can do this body prayer anywhere, anytime.  The ideal is a quiet place where nothing else is "happening", but I've entered into it riding on a crowded train.  So you can be anywhere as long as you're not "engaged" with what's happening other than sensory awareness (open ears, smell, touch).  It can be done alone or with others (e.g. during a meeting for healing).  I do it mainly in bed at night when I'm having trouble sleeping.

Body Position:  The two "classic" receptive positions are:

  • Seated in a comfortable but straight backed chair with hands loosely at your side and feet flat on the floor or
  • Supine (is this word related to "supplication?) on a firm bed or floor with hands at your side. 

Eyes closed - or half-open and somewhat out of focus if you're used to meditating that way.  I find it useful to remove the hand brace that I wear at night for carpal tunnel syndrome before doing this.

1. Ground yourself.  Feel the chair/bed/floor holding your body.  Feel your connection to the earth.  You may want to gently notice any sensory experiences around you (e.g. sounds, smells, temperature).

2. Breathe.  Take some quiet, moderately deep breaths.

3. Relax / let go.  Go through whatever process will help you to let go of physical and emotional tension.  Some people find it helpful to progressively tense parts of their body and then let them go beginning with their feet and moving upwards to their face.  Try to postpone/set aside worries/task concerns.

4. Place yourself in God's hands.  Open yourself to God's care for you.  Offer yourself into that Love.

5. Choose a part of your body to focus on.  Do a gentle physical inventory.  Notice your body without judgment.  Where are you in pain, tense, carrying or storing burdens? Is there a limb or organ that is experiencing some sort of distress or disease process that you wish to offer up to God?  There may be many places but choose one to focus on for now.

6. Place this part of your body into God's hands.  Imagine this part of you being held, caressed, cared for, cherished. Try to open this limb or organ or these cells to being completely infused by God's love.  Try to let the pain or tension go.  If it's comfortable, you may wish to put a hand on this part of your body. You can say things to yourself such as "I offer my elbow to you, Lord" as you breathe.

7. Don't "push".  There are no agendas here.  Try not to be attached to what "needs" to happen, such as "Please free me from this pain", "Please take away this illness" or "Relax already!" You may well be longing for some kind of healing or freedom, but the point is to experience God being with you rather than trying to make something happen by this activity. Open yourself to love without expectation.

Next steps:  Notice gently what's happening or has happened in you as you do this, but try not to evaluate how well it went. It's better to just be with whatever happened.  You can move on to other parts of your body if it feels right.

Prayer for Another:  You can also do this same exercise focusing on a part of someone else's body.  This can happen if you are physically with them or not.  If you are with them you can either touch them or not.  If I'm not touching the person I'm offering into God's hands but I'm in the room with her/him, I find it helpful to open my hands and direct them towards her/him.

- Peter Blood-Patterson, QPCC Conference, 2006