Salvation, Healing and Spiritual Wholeness
By Francyl Streano Gawryn
1990 General Conference, Snowmass, Colorado
Let me begin with this reading from "Mary Magdalen":
It was in the month of June when I saw Him for the first time. He was
walking in the wheatfield when I passed by with my handmaidens, and He
The rhythm of His step was different from other men's, and the movement
of His body was like naught I had seen before.
Men do not pace the earth in that manner. And even now I do not know
whether He walked fast or slow.
My handmaidens pointed their fingers at Him and spoke in shy whispers
to one another. And I stayed my steps for a moment, and raised my hand
to hail Him. But He did not turn His face, and He did not look at me. And
I hated Him. I was swept back into myself, and I was as cold as if I had
been in a snow-drift. And I shivered.
That night I beheld Him in my dreaming; and they told me afterward that
I screamed in my sleep and was restless upon my bed.
It was in the month of August that I saw Him again, through my window.
He was sitting in the shadow of the cypress tree across my garden, and
He was as still as if He had been carved out of stone, like the statues
in Antioch and other cities of the North Country.
And my slave, the Egyptian, came to me and said, "That man is here
again. He is sitting there across your garden."
And I gazed at Him, and my soul quivered within me, for He was beautiful.
His body was single and each part seemed to love every other part.
Then I clothed myself with raiment of Damascus, and I left my house
and walked towards Him.
Was it my aloneness, or was it His fragrance, that drew me to Him? Was
it a hunger in my eyes that desired comeliness, or was it His beauty that
sought the light of my eyes?
Even now I do not know.
I walked to him with my scented garments and my golden sandals, the
sandals the Roman captain had given me, even these sandals. And when I
reached Him, I said, "Good-morrow to you."
And He said, "Good-morrow to you, Miriam."
And He looked at me, and His night-eyes saw me as no man had seen me.
And suddenly I was as if naked, and I was shy.
Yet He had only said, "Good-morrow to you."
And then I said to Him, "Will you not come to my house?"
I did not know what He meant then, but I know now.
And I said, "Will you not have wine and bread with me?"
And He said, "Yes, Miriam, but not now."
Not now, not now, He said. And the voice of the sea was in those
two words, and the voice of the wind and the trees. And when He said them
unto me, life spoke to death.
For mind you, my friend, I was dead. I was a woman who had divorced
her soul. I was living apart from this self which you now see. I belonged
to all men, and to none. They called me harlot, and a woman possessed of
seven devils. I was cursed, and I was envied.
But when His dawn-eyes looked into my eyes all the stars of my night
faded away, and I became Miriam, only Miriam, a woman lost to the earth
she had known, and finding herself in new places.
And now again I said to Him, "Come into my house and share bread
and wine with me."
And He said, "Why do you bid me to be your guest?"
And I said, "I beg you to come into my house." And it was
all that was sod in me, and all that was sky in me calling unto Him.
Then He looked at me, and the noontide of His eyes was upon me, and
He said, "You have many lovers, and yet I alone love you. Other men
love themselves in your nearness. I love you in your self. Other men see
a beauty in you that shall fade away sooner than their own years. But I
see in you a beauty that shall not fade away, and in the autumn of your
days that beauty shall not be afraid to gaze at itself in the mirror, and
it shall not be offended.
"I alone love the unseen in you."
Then He said in a low voice, "Go away now. If this cypress tree
is yours and you would not have me sit in its shadow, I will walk my way."
And I cried to Him and I said, "Master, come to my house. I have
incense to burn for you, and a silver basin for your feet. You are a stranger
and yet not a stranger. I entreat you, come to my house."
Then He stood up and looked at me even as the seasons might look down
upon the field, and He smiled. And He said again: "All men love you
for themselves. I love you for yourself."
And then He walked away.
But no other man ever walked the way He walked. Was it a breath born
in my garden that moved to the east? Or was it a storm that would shake
all things to their foundations?
I knew not, but on that day the sunset of His eyes slew the dragon in
me, and I became a woman, I became Miriam, Miriam of Mijdel.
--Kahlil Gibran, The Son of Man
* * *
Salvation and Healing
Salvation is spoken of in many, many terms and from many contexts. John
Sanford, in his book, Healing and Wholeness, speaks of spiritual
growth and its goal in terms of wholeness. He says, "It is impossible
to summarize the way a person becomes whole. It is an individual matter,
differing with each person. But it can be said that to become whole we
must be involved with life. This earthly existence appears to be a crucible
in which the forging of the whole person is to take place. Our life must
have a story to it if we are to become whole, and this means we must come
up against something; otherwise a story can't take place. Some people seem
destined to become whole by combating outer life circumstances, some through
encountering the inner forces of the unconscious, some through involvement
with both. But if we stand on the sidelines of life, wholeness cannot emerge.
If we are to become whole, we will have led a life in which darkness has
been faced, and an encounter with evil has been risked."
On page 1662-3 of The Urantia Book, Jesus, in talking with John,
makes reference to the story of Job, who, having been blessed with money,
a beautiful home, lovely family, good health, etc., suddenly finds himself
stricken, his family dead, his lands and home ruined. Said Jesus, "While
Job did not, through suffering, find the resolution of his intellectual
troubles or the solution of his philosophical difficulties, he did achieve
great victories; even in the very face of the breakdown of his theological
defenses he ascended to those spiritual heights where he could sincerely
say, `I abhor myself'; then was there granted him the salvation of a vision
of God. So even through misunderstood suffering, Job ascended to the
superhuman plane of moral understanding and spiritual insight. When the
suffering servant obtains a vision of God, there follows a soul peace which
passes all human understanding."
On page 1651, Jesus, in the company of Simon the Pharisee and others,
is reclining to eat when a well-known woman of "unsavory reputation"
who had recently become a believer in Jesus' gospel and changed her mode
of living came in from the street.
This unnamed woman had brought with her a large flask of perfumed anointing
lotion and, standing behind Jesus as he reclined at meat, began to anoint
his feet while she also wet his feet with her tears of gratitude, wiping
them with the hair of her head. And when she had finished this anointing,
she continued weeping and kissing his feet.
When Simon saw all this, he said to himself: "This man, if he were
a prophet, would have perceived who and what manner of woman this is who
thus touches him; that she is a notorious sinner." And Jesus, knowing
what was going on in Simon's mind, spoke up, saying: "Simon, I have
something which I would like to say to you." Simon answered, "Teacher,
say on." Then said Jesus: "A certain wealthy moneylender had
two debtors. The one owed him five hundred denarii and the other fifty.
Now, when neither of them had wherewith to pay, he forgave them both. Which
of them do you think, Simon, would love him most?" Simon answered,
"He, I suppose, whom he forgave the most." And Jesus said, "You
have rightly judged," and pointing to the woman, he continued: "Simon,
take a good look at this woman. I entered your house as an invited guest,
yet you gave me no water for my feet. This grateful woman has washed my
feet with tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave me no
kiss of friendly greeting, but this woman, ever since she came in, has
not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil you neglected to anoint, but
she has anointed my feet with precious lotions. And what is the meaning
of all this? Simply that her many sins have been forgiven, and this has
led her to love much. But those who have received but little forgiveness
sometimes love but little."
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican
And on page 1838 Jesus tells the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican
Said Jesus: "You see, then, that the Father gives salvation to
the children of men, and this salvation is a free gift to all who have
the faith to receive sonship in the divine family. There is nothing man
can do to earn this salvation. Works of self-righteousness cannot buy the
favor of God, and much praying in public will not atone for lack of living
faith in the heart. Men you may deceive by your outward service, but God
looks into your souls. What I am telling you is well illustrated by two
men who went into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other
a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself: `O God, I thank you
that I am not like the rest of men, extortioners, unlearned, unjust, adulterers,
or even like this publican. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that
I get.' But the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift
his eyes to heaven but smote his breast, saying, `God be merciful to me
a sinner.' I tell you that the publican went home with God's approval rather
than the Pharisee, for every one who exalts himself shall be humbled, but
he who humbles himself shall be exalted."
The common bond here is the recognition of one's own personal limitations,
one's own capacity for evil, one's own fragile and vulnerable state of
being, and what the spiritual repercussions are consequent upon the recognition
and acknowledgement of those limitations, capacity for evil and fragile
and vulnerable state of being. In these stories, the darkness has been
faced, the evil has been encountered.
From the section, "Trips about Rome," we read on page 1466
of The Urantia Book that Jesus has just passed by a person and has
not engaged that man in a conversation which would naturally lead to questions
regarding spirituality. In part, Jesus explains to Ganid, "That man
was not ripe for the harvest of salvation; he must be allowed more time
for the trials and difficulties of life to prepare him for the reception
of wisdom and higher learning. Or, if we could have him live with us, we
might by our lives show him the Father in heaven, and thus would he become
so attracted by our lives as sons of God that he would be constrained to
inquire about your Father."
John Bradshaw uses a term which I personally like--that of healthy
shame. Healthy shame brings us to a correct recognition of our human
limitations. It gives us the permission to be human. It gives us permission
to act and to make mistakes when we act. Reading again from John Sanford's Healing and Wholeness: "This means, of course, that life must
be lived with riskThe safe life is not the whole life, and the whole life
will have its share of mistakes. Not only will we learn through these mistakes
and errors, but they themselves become a part of our mysterious totality.
We are our mistakes, as well as our successes. A life without mistakes
is impoverished, although, of course, our mistakes and errors must be redeemed
by our becoming conscious through them."
I believe that if we do not, on a continual basis, reconsider and accept
the fact of our own limitations, reckon with our own healthy shame, the
reality of our own capacity for evil, our own smallness, then we cannot
accept ourselves for who we really are, and we divorce ourselves from ourselves.
We then fail not only to accept our own humanity, but we also fail to accept
the humanity of those around us.
The second solution which Jesus offers for spiritual blindness is relatedness--our
relationships to those around us whom we love and who love us. It is in
relationship that we find another path to spiritual growth. It is in the
embrace of real relationship that we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to
others and valuable to others. It is in growing relationships that we discover
that we are lovable and that we have the capacity to love, and it is through
relationships, the successes and the failures, that we perfect our ability
to love. Again, reading from John Sanford:
The development of consciousness is not possible without emotion, and
emotion comes to us through the significant relationships in our lives.
If we have not loved and hated, been enriched and injured by others, life
has not been lived. For this reason, relationships are crucial to our psychological
At the conclusion of Sanford's book, he suggests six techniques whereby
we may seek to enhance our own personal process of self-healing, our own
process of becoming whole. I would add, our own process toward a deeper
and more rich understanding of our own story, our own movement toward spiritual
completeness. They are:
1. Our relationships.
2. Journal writing. Keeping a journal is not the same as keeping a diary.
In a diary, one writes about what one did during the day, outward actions,
people seen, etc. In a journal one writes about one's inner life. A journal
is a personal account of one's own inner journey toward wholeness.
3. Body work of some sort. Be it yoga, jogging, tennis, swimming, racquet
ball, golf, you name it. Try at least three times per week to do some regular
activity which honors and exercises the wonderful companion your body is
4. Meditation. Again, pick your own style, but spend some regular time
every day if possible in this quieting activity.
5. Active imagination. This will take some explaining if you are not
familiar with it. For a more detailed explanation, please do refer to John
Sanford's Healing and Wholeness. This is a process of actively engaging
in dialogue with some image or feeling which holds special meaning for
you, and writing down the dialogue. Use your journal. Writing it
down is very important. Take for example a dream you have recently had,
or an image from a piece of poetry or art. Ask the image what import it
holds for you. The fact that it is an image which you remember with some
emotional content guarantees that it holds import for you. Write down your
questions and the answers you receive.
6. Dreamwork. Try to put some thought each morning before arising to
remember your dreams. Use your journal to record your dreams and your reactions
to them. Use active imagination with those images which are intriguing
or hold emotional content for you.
For more information on this topic, please refer to the following books:
- 1. Prayer, Stress, and Our Inner Wounds, by Flora Wuellner, published
by The Upper Room
- 2. Prayer and Our Bodies, by Flora Wuellner, The Upper Room
- 3. Healing and Wholeness, by John Sanford, Paulist Press
- 4. Necessary Losses, by Judith Viorst, Ballantine
- 5. The Uses of Enchantment, by Bruno Bettelheim, Vintage Press
- 6. Dreamwork, by Jeremy Taylor