A Prayer for Healing

For Ner Shalom Shabbat of Healing, June 20, 2014

Dear God, heal our bodies. Heal our spirits. Heal us.

God, we ask this, not always knowing what healing means. We ask this, often - usually - confusing healing with cure. We want cures. We understand cures better. Even though we know that cures can hurt us too. Sometimes we still need healing long after the cure has worked. And sometimes we can be healed even when we're not cured. But in any event, God, we will just ask for refuah, for healing, and leave it to you to fill in the details.

Dear God, help us to feel that we are divine sparks, even when we are tired and dragging. Help us to feel like we are created in your image, even as our bodies become sick or frail or otherwise hint that they might not have your particular staying power.

Dear God, you have made these bodies of ours so complicated, and sometimes we wonder if that was so necessary. N'kavim n'kavim, chalulim chalulim, we say each morning. Channels and orifices. That is what we're made of. We know that if what is supposed to flow freely gets stopped up or if what is supposed to be contained springs a leak, we are in trouble. You have made our bodies as complicated as the cosmos. And we are grateful for every moment we have in them. Especially the moments when we feel so good, so normal, that we don't even notice their complexity at all. Give us more of those moments, God, please, more of those.

God, you have made our minds, our spirits, equally complex and easily damaged, even though we can't see that kind of frailty on an X-ray. It might have been nicer just to make us all happy and functional, God, but that obviously was not quite the plan. Maybe it has something to do with that free will thing. We each have our own obstacles to overcome. We each have to find our own path to wholeness, to you. Maybe we have to earn our happiness somehow, although I daresay there are many people who deserve happiness and don't have it. And, when put to it, I can't really think of anyone who doesn't deserve happiness, so there goes that idea altogether. Maybe we just have to create our own meaning for it all as we go, even if the good and the bad are unequally distributed, which frankly kinda stinks. Or maybe I shouldn't be dwelling in these details; maybe life is a test, and you just haven't yet sent the angel who will say Avraham, Avrahamand call it all off.

Dear God, keep me from ingratitude. Because despite all my complaints, life is precious, and the delicacy of these bodies we live in makes it only more so. And if I feel the difficulty of it sometimes more than I feel the wonder of it, well, we are creatures of earth and our clay concerns us. But really, I am - we are - so grateful to be here in these bodies that have been really much trustier than not. I am grateful for lungs that have breathed through this day, and for this heart that has beaten so many times a minute, over a thousand minutes a day, nearly 20,000 days of my life and counting. I have owned cars both American and foreign, and have seen many finely made appliances and Apple products too and nothing made by man or machine can compare to what you set in motion on this planet.

Dear God, our Torah calls you the rofei. The healer. You healed Miriam at Moshe's request. You healed the women of Avimelech's kingdom at Avraham's. We are aware that it doesn't work quite that way anymore. You are still rofei kol basar umafli la'asot - the wondrous healer of the body. But we know that for a bunch of years now, you have pulled back from the retail end of the healing business. Thankfully, you have allowed our human intuition and compassion and curiosity to give rise to healers, responding to your call, doing your work. Nurses, doctors, chiropractors, Reiki practitioners, therapists - every manner of professional channeling the regenerative power of this universe through their hands and heads and hearts.

So Dear God, about these human healers. Please give them confidence in their abilities. And along with that, give them humility as well. Let them harden themselves as much as they need in order to be around so much suffering all the time, because we need them to be able to be there. And still, keep them vulnerable enough that they can still hear your voice in their instincts, and so they can still feel compassion for their patients, even at the end of a long day, even after a 48-hour shift, even if the patient is difficult, even if the prognosis is not good.

Dear God, take good care of our healers. May they be nimble and perceptive and loving. May they be well taken care of by their partners and friends, even if it means that said partners and friends have to hear a few too many emergency room stories for their tastes. It is the least we can do.

Dear God, help us to see illness not as our enemy, but as an inevitable element of life in these vessels. Help us celebrate our lives in these bodies and on this planet. Let us all be Psalmists singing your praise with every breath, and every heartbeat, and with every ache and pain too, for as long as we can, and may it be long, and may it end gently.

And dear God, Gotenyu, I think that's kinda at the heart of what we all want, and we're sometimes too unclear or maybe superstitious even to say it. It has to do with death. We're not fond of it. Of death. It's freaky and it scares us and we know it's natural but we can't see beyond it and that's really your fault more than ours, I have to say. But in any event we want to live. We want to live a long time. And then we want it to end gently. Sometimes we might be willing to suffer in order to be here longer. And sometimes we might be willing to let go a little earlier if suffering is the price of life. So God, it's hard to know specifically what to ask for here, but let's just say this: if it's possible, let us make those decisions, each of us for ourselves. No pressure, but I think as a rule, all other things being equal, it would be our preference.

El na r'fa no lah. God send healing.

R'fa'enu Adonai v'nirapei. Heal us and we will, gratefully, be healed.

Hin'ni noteh eleyha k'nahar shalom. May we be open to you like a riverbed, and may your peace, your wholeness, your healing, pour in like a river.

Dear God, heal our bodies. Heal our spirits. Heal us.


I'm grateful to my friend, Rabbi Dorothy Richman, and to my husband, Oren Slozberg, for some important insights that helped me along on this. And to Dezi Gallegos and his performance of "God Fights the Plague" for lots of recent inspiration, including some particulars of wording, content, rhythm and pacing, that are clearly part of this.