Cal. Rec. Oct.'99


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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 his family.

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