Healing in Danville is something very special, The Caledonian
Record, October 23, 1999. by Steve Parker
Curt Vance has Lou Gehrig's disease. He is blessed
to have a wonderful friend, Heidi Erdmann, and a loving and supportive family,
to care for him. The network of active caring for Curt has extended out
into the Danville community and well beyond. There are many who do what
they can to help in a thousand ways, in simple acts of kindness and love.
A Thursday night healing circle led by a neighbor, Diana
Webster, has been meeting regularly since last spring. The numbers
attending this healing circle have been so large that is has been impossible to
fit into the house where Curt and Heidi have been living - the newly constructed
home of Hollis and Mary Prior, Curt's aunt and uncle, who have made their house
available to Curt and Heidi during the illness. Chairs are set up in a
wide circle in the front yard. Heidi brings Curt out of the house in his
wheelchair and then she and Curtis warmly welcome everyone to the gathering
before turning the meeting over to Diana.
Curt is a very funny man. He loves nothing better than
laughing and sharing stories with friends. One night at the beginning of
the healing group, his mother, Linda, was speaking eloquently about her family's
appreciation for the help and support Curt had received. She spoke about
Curt's healing as a slow and gradual process. She said, "If you think
that God is going to come down in a flash and Curt will get out of his chair and
walk around, you'd better rethink that." At this point Curt
interjected, "Although if He wants to, that's okay too."
I sit in my chair in the circle and watch as people I have
known nearly all my life quietly walk forward and put their hands gently on
Curt, close their eyes and pray for his healing. They feel energy flowing
through their bodies into their hands and into Curt's body as he lies stretched
back in his chair. When this is over and everyone has returned to their
seats, he talks about the experience. "I felt a lot of energy
tonight. I had lots of good images of myself working in my
orchard." He has the dream of planting apple trees on a hillside in a
corner of his uncle's farm in North Danville.
When Curt was asked what he wanted out of the healing groups
back when they were beginning, he said, "I want my town to be
healed." This generous spirit pervades the Thursday night healing
circles and indeed Curt's entire illness. People come to give and leave
feeling they have been given to."
As I sit in my chair and watch my neighbors offering their
heartfelt gifts I feel filled with gratitude. Though this town has been my
home since I was 3 and I have always loved it, I have the feeling that just now
I am really seeing below the surface into people's hearts. Maybe we are
all experiencing this and maybe in this way Curt's wish is being fulfilled.
From what manifold injuries do we all need healing?
Maybe from what Hamlet refers to as "the heartache and the thousand natural
shocks that flesh is heir to." And how do we heal? Maybe, among other
things, by giving unselfishly, as these people do. By treating the heart,
even while it aches, as though it has many simple gifts to give, and giving them
freely. When this happens, tears often flow. We laugh as we think of
Curt's mock-stern words when he welcomes us. "It's OK to cry the
first time you come here. After that, get over it."
Meanwhile the disease continues to move. The healing
group isn't happening this week because Curt is at Mass. General Hospital in
Boston, being fitted with a feeding tube. Swallowing and speaking have
become increasingly difficult in the last two weeks. But next week, the
last Thursday in October, at 6:30 p.m., the healing groups will resume meeting
at the Danville Restaurant, since it has become too cold to sit outside in the
evenings. Everyone is welcome to join us. If you aren't able to make
it, sit quietly for a few minutes and send your prayers to Curt and Heidi and
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