Response-ability. . .

Allowing one’s brother to clean up his own mess is entirely different from turning one’s back upon him.   Give him legs that he might walk.  Give him hands that he might work.  Give him eyes that he might see. Give him heart that he might love.  And set him upon the path with love that he might walk it in his own way, seeking as he does his individual place within the vast and immeasurable scope of creation.  But also remain ever poised to offer a hand should he stumble and cry out for help.

This is often particularly difficult when we’re faced with watching the pain and suffering of those in our immediate circles.  Those of us who find themselves serving others in some capacity of healing couldn’t possibly do this work were it not for a deep-rooted sense of compassion.

Often we’re tempted to reach out to others without their permission in the form of distance work.  I remember one time in particular near the beginning of my own journey when my mother was in intensive care with diabetic complications.  Her heartbeat was shallow; and her blood was highly toxic due to almost complete renal failure.

Overcome by naiveté and the idea that “I” had to do something to help her, I decided – without her permission and in a manner that was blatantly against her own religious path – to perform a distance extraction healing in order to help her overcome her afflictions.

The ceremony was brutal and lasted well over an hour.  During the course of it I nearly vomited three times.  My mother received little or no benefit from the work; and I received a much needed teaching, the matter of which I follow to this day.

Healing work performed without permission is nothing more than the imposition of one’s own will upon the life path of another; and not that far removed from spiritual rape.  What seems an affliction to the observer might actually be a valuable learning experience to the one directly experiencing its effects.   It might also become a valuable lesson for the perspective healer about the balance of power, the true source of spiritual energy, and the gargantuan responsibility of becoming a conduit for it.

The following example is one I’ve used many times when speaking with those not familiar with the way shamanic healing works.  Imagine an old black and white movie.  You see the lobby of an extravagant hotel.  In one corner of the lobby sits an operator.  Someone from room 103 wants to talk with someone from room 605.  The operator takes a wire and plugs one end into one corresponding socket, and the other end into another.  One socket is the Spirit world.  One socket is the Physical world.  The shaman is the wire.   The shaman no more owns the energy that passes through his or her body than the wire owns the pulses which travel across it.  And most importantly, the conversation cannot occur unless both parties have given their consent.

Now, there are those who would argue that this scenario also rules out praying for others.  In this case, I’m inclined to agree with authors like Gregg Braden who tell us that the energy we put out into the Universe drives the creative mechanism.  For example, if I were to pray for my Aunt Matilda to recover from cancer, and repeat this over and over, what I’m really reinforcing is my Aunt Matilda’s sickness. (i.e. “Aunt Matilda has cancer.  Aunt Matilda has cancer.”)

An unimposing way of praying for Aunt Matilda without her permission would be to simply send her love and ask the Creator that she receive whatever is for her highest good.  This places her in Spirit’s care, and allows the love which flows through us to be a part of that.  We claim nothing.  We take nothing away. And we have placed ourselves beside Aunt Matilda in such a way that makes us available if and when the time comes that we’re needed.

The blessing of this path is that we become vessels for the Creator’s healing energy.  The curse is that sometimes our emotions struggle to dictate the direction in which that energy should flow. . .


15 Responses to “Response-ability. . .”

  1. Thanks, Ben. Well said!


  2. Michael J. Melville Says:

    What I especially like about the Liberal Catholic Church is the “healing prayer list” which has the form you mention for Aunt Matilda. Exactly like that. The Healing Service is separate. It is Holy Unction and we take that help for ourselves and by proxy for someone who requests our help. My Curandero is in London and asked for prayers, so I utilized the LCC service as well as the use of tobacco in the Native American Church prayer service last week. I also prayed for him in the Santo Daime Sao Miguel Work on Friday. Whether this helps me or me and Abraham, doesn’t matter. It is doing something and I like feeling involved in the lives of people whom I love. Thanks for your insight and honesty. It is refreshing.


  3. Thank you, both. Growing up Catholic with a mother who converted from Pentacostalism gave me a unique exposure to the way prayer is used. I would attend mass on Saturday nights and then Sunday School in my grandmother’s church and services on Sunday. Both seemed to stress the illnesses over the recovery of the people they prayed for. Granted, the tears flowed freely in both churches, and the love was evident. Now that I’ve found my way to the sweatlodge, I often hear the same kind of prayers.

    They come from a place of caring, and the desire to see the person free from pain. Still, it seems that for prayer to be most effective, it must be handled as though it were a loaded gun: carefully, and with extreme attention as to where it’s pointed…


    • Michael J. Melville Says:

      Exactly my experience with the Lodge as well. Ultimately we have to model the way we want it to be. People notice what we do, not what we say. Unless, of course, words and actions coincide.


      • Yes, Michael, I completely agree with you about modeling. So often new people come to a lodge with preconceived notions. To have a strong Uncle or Auntie around to fill them in is such a necessary part of the ceremony.

        Many times, especially if they’re afraid of making a mistake or doing heavy ego work, they won’t ask, but will quietly look to us for guidance by observing how we act.


  4. I never thought that prayer could be a way of re-enforcing a situation, but now you mention it, it makes absolute sense. Interesting post.


    • Thanks, Katie. It’s definitely something we’re not taught to think about. Here’s a link that explains it in more detail:


      • Thank you so much for pointing me in the direction of The lost mode of prayer, am listening to the entire YouTube series- incredible information and well worth taking the time to do so.
        Thanks again.



      • You’re welcome, Katie. Glad to hear you’re enjoying it.


  5. Elder’s Meditation of the Day May 8

    “Anyways, with medicine there’s a time and a place for everything. It only comes around once. You have to get it at the right time.”
    —- Cecilia Mitchell, MOHAWK

    The old ones say two things must be present for a miracle to take place. One, the right time. Two, the right place. This is why we need to honor our ceremonies. Ceremonies are done in an order. This order is applied to open a “door” to the right time and place of the medicine. This door opens to the Spiritual World. The Spiritual World is available to us at the right time and the right place.

    “My Creator, let me be patient today so the timing is right.”

    – don Coyhis


  6. Sometimes we create havoc even when we are asked to be of aid. Recently, a ceremony was requested. I was asked to conduct, although in reality, the task was shared with two very competent, compassionate colleagues. As we moved towards the time of actual ceremony, I explained to the participants that while we would be able to accomplish part of what they had requested, they also had to do their part, even though that might be frightening or difficult. That proved profoundly troubling for the recipients.

    I was also thinking about a cleansing I had done several years ago at the bed side of a dying relative. I was torn as I knew I could be helpful but he was asleep. He was Christian, and Native, and I was not sure what he would wish. I performed a simple clearing, and asked that his transition be easy. I further asked that the Creator allow to come about any healing that was needed before his death.

    I’m still unsure I did the right thing, I learned though, and when another close relative was dying, I simply was present. Maybe we learn from our questions, our mistakes, and our acts of compassion.


  7. Got that right!


  8. I use this exact ‘operator’ analogy when I speak to people before a mediumship session. I learned this early on in my healing work. I have also learned the lesson of discernment where helping others is concerned. I have a child with a major medical problem, and if I was the one destined to heal her, it would have been done a long time ago. But that is not mine to do. I am to support her on her journey. I get to be her mother. And you got to be your mother’s son when all was said and done. Thank you for sharing.


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