Armodoxy for Today: The Supernatural Within
Continuing our journey through Armodoxy, we bring the supernatural home today. If we put away our prejudices, and keep the ego in check, we find it easier to see the supernatural in daily occurrences, whether in the pollination of a flower, the amazing structure a duckling’s tail feather, or the supernatural occurrence healing of the physical.
When we look at the metaphor of the Vine and the branches which Jesus articulates, “I am the vine and you are the branches… you cannot bear fruit without being connected to the vine,” we find a natural progression of events. A branch cannot bear fruit if it is not connected to the vine! Yes, obviously. It’s so natural that it is a given, not even necessary to mention. But our “dull faculties” (Einstein’s words) have become conditioned to the point that we doubt the obvious, and so we must repeat it for clarity. Jesus should not have had to give this lesson in agricultural botany to a group of people who cultivated the land for their livelihood, but he did. Now imagine how much more we need to, and must, reiterate matters with which we are not familiar.
In the last century (and those of you following this series will know why I place the time as such), in my first parish I had a young lady named Leslie, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The diagnosis was devastating enough, without learning of the many horrible and frightening treatments she would endure to fight this disease and with no certainty of winning that battle. Within our parish community the word spread quickly, and we were all in various degrees of anguish. She was a mother of a beautiful daughter who was too young to realize what lurked ahead for mom. Her husband, stoic at the news, but ever so supportive and determined to overcome the cancer. We braced for the worst with members of our church even discussing how to take care of the little child in her mother’s absence.
That Sunday, as all Sundays, we celebrated the Divine Liturgy and distributed the Holy Eucharist. After church services, Leslie approached me. She told me – not asked me – “I received Holy Communion today. It is the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ.” I nodded my head, yes, you did. She continued, “Well, if Jesus Christ is within me, what cancer can survive inside of me? There is no place for that cancer!”
She said this with such conviction and strength. I picture her face saying this to me to this day and my eyes water as I swell up with emotion thinking about it. If Jesus Christ is inside of me, what business does cancer have within me? Yes! That’s exactly what she said.
Leslie went on to live. She and her husband brought two more beautiful daughters to this world and through the years, we stay in touch, even if only for a Christmas card, with pictures of the family growing and flowering. Even more, she is forever connected to me through the “Vine” that connects us all. Her story has helped me through some of my worst days, and I share it with others, not only to offer hope, but to change our perception of the supernatural to natural.
What we call Supernatural is natural, normal, for those who exist in a different plane of understanding. That plane is not that far away. It is no different than perceiving heaven here on earth. The exercise of losing ego and the dropping of the prejudices we harbor against the miracles of life bring us closer to that reality.
We pray today from St. Nersess Shnorhali’s prayer of the evening hours, “Gracious Lord, commit me to a good angel, who may guide my soul in peace, and carry it undisturbed through the wickedness of evil to heavenly places. Amen.”