When I was a missionary in Johannesburg, South Africa, I developed a church-based community outreach program to assist the homeless and unemployed people in the city center. The program included food, low-cost housing, vocational training and self-employment projects. All of these were valuable forms of assistance. However, I believe that the most valuable thing we offered was the opportunity for people to heal and transform their inner selves. It was valuable because inner work always manifests in our outer lives.
The practical material assistance we offered enabled people to survive. But the healing workshops, counseling and weekly support group enabled people to live—to discover and develop reasons for being alive and to heal the old wounds that kept them trapped in destructive cycles of behavior.
Healing was the heart of that ministry and I believe it is something we can all use, no matter where we live.
I am now living in the Andean mountains of Peru where I continue to learn and teach people about the art of healing. Someone recently asked me if I did physical healing or was it just emotional or spiritual kind of healing. I told him that it is the divine love of God that heals and transforms us.
We can learn to tap into that divine grace to heal ourselves and others. Physical, emotional and spiritual health are interconnected. When we are out of balance, it could lead to illness on any of these levels. Usually physical illness is an indication that there are imbalances in other areas of our life. I work holistically on all these levels.
One of the best ways to stay in balance is to make quiet time for meditation on a regular basis. There are a variety of ways to meditate but nearly all of them are about quieting our thinking minds so that we can connect with the divine.
Meditation is deep listening. Far from being half-awake grogginess, it is a state of heightened awareness, being alive to our own lives, and more importantly, being alive to the possibilities beyond our own lives, beyond our material reality. Meditation allows us to process what is happening and discern what we want to happen. It allows us to clear away the clutter of our daily lives, quiet our minds and perceive on a different level.
I believe that daily meditation is crucial to our development, crucial for healing and transformation, especially in the United States where life is often hectic and pressured. For in that stillness, in that silence, we are open and receptive to the vastness beyond our conscious physical reality.
Whatever way we meditate, when we quiet the chatter of our minds we can hear that other voice within us—the voice of inner knowing, the voice of the ages, the voice of the divine.
The Rev. Diane Dunn, a UCC minister, lives in Cusco, Peru, where she teaches mystical healing and is helping to develop an interfaith spirituality center. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.