After a drive of several kilometres from the nearest town, Curitiba (in Southern Brasil), we arrived in a field at the end of a dusty track. It was early afternoon. In the corner of the field was a building that looked like an abandoned workshop except for a sign, Hopital de Senhor (Hospital of the Lord). There was a lengthy queue outside. I had been to healers before, but nothing had prepared me for what was about to unfold.
In the entrance was an assortment of Catholic symbols – pictures of nuns, crucifixes and so on, and a poster showing a familiar but inaccurate representation of a pale faced Yeshua of Nazareth. There were also pictures and a statue of his mother similar to the one displayed at Lourdes.
The hospital is run by a former nun who, I was told, had been thrown out of the convent for practising the healing arts. She was said to incorporate powerful healing entities and work with them to diagnose health complaints and perform spiritual surgery.
I wondered why the convent had considered her to be such a threat. According to the Bible, believed by many to be the ‘word of G_d’, Yeshua told his followers that they could do all that he did and sent them forth to heal. But the mainstream church has always frowned on spiritual healing as the work of the devil, unless performed under its direct supervision (e.g. by a priest).
A receptionist took our names to add to a list for receiving constant blessings, and a small financial contribution (R$15, around US$7). She gave each of us a number and we sat down on the well used plastic chairs to await our turn. To one side was a tiny chapel. We didn’t have to wait long before being shown into the consulting room. There were no decorations, just a bare walls, bare ceiling, a bare floor and a simple raised seat in the centre of the room with a note in Portuguese not to sit on it.
We were greeted by a small, slim woman, not young, with grey hair cut simply, dressed in a plain blue nun’s dress with a crucifix on a chain around her neck. She smiled warmly, her eyes shining with delight to see us, as if we were the first people she had seen that day.
First she took my wife’s hand. She had been having pains in her left leg for months, with restricted movement in the knee joint, and frequent cramp in the calf muscle. The nun asked if she had a pain in her back: the answer was yes. The nun said all the tendons and muscles were out of balance, but that these problems would be gone in three days. She would operate on the leg and spine that night.
Then holding both our hands, she asked us about our life and future plans. We told her we were planning to move from England to Brasil, possibly to the north-east, the sun-drenched area just south of the equator. ‘Ah, you want to get your feet in the water!’ she laughed. ‘But I don’t see you in these places, ‘I see you on the beaches of Parana, Guaratuba or Pontal do Sul.’ (We had already made plans to spend the next few days there.)
She turned to me. With my wife as interpreter (my Portuguese is rudimentary, to say the least), she said, ‘He was a musician in a previous life, he played a piano accordion.’ My wife commented that I do indeed love music. ‘And what does he do?’ she asked.
‘He writes books and articles on practical psychology, health and healing, including books on spirituality.’
Her face lit up. ‘We need people like him because the books we have here don’t describe the spiritual world as we know it The truth is totally different.’
‘He’s currently writing a book on religion that’s going to shake people, because he’s telling the truth.’
Clearly Catholicism had no hold over her. ‘Good. We need someone to do this. He will have great success. Do you want to ask me a question?’
I told her that I suffered daily headaches and pains around the eyes. Without my guiding her she put her hand on the exact spot. ‘Don’t worry, we will take this away. The eyes are sore because of the headaches. When the pain in the head disappears, the pains around the eyes will go too.’
Then she said she would do the surgery that night. We should wear white and place a glass of water next to the bed. No fixed time was specified – ‘they’ would come when we were ready. In the morning we must drink the water. Then we must avoid refrigerated food and drinks for three days.
Holding both our hands, she blessed us. On the way back to our apartment we stopped at a hypermarket to buy some pure white T shirts.
Later that night we did exactly as she said. I dropped off almost as soon as my head hit the pillow and, unusually for me, slept the whole night. In the morning we drank the water.
On the first day, my wife’s leg was more painful than usual; the whole leg was throbbing, as if she had an infection. But for the first time in weeks, when she put her foot on the floor she could put her full weight on it. On the second and third days, the leg still felt a little tender, but on the fourth day all soreness had gone. On the fifth day she had total movement in both the knee and ankle and no tenderness in the calf muscle, so much so she could wear heels comfortably.
In my case, after two days the headache had abated and the pain around the eyes had lessened. The third and fourth days showed another improvement, but when I awoke on the sixth day, I was back to square one. I booked another appointment. We arrived at 6:30 am, just before the sun rose. There was already a long queue of cars on the lane outside, awaiting the arrival of the nun.
We were the first to be seen. The nun greeted us warmly, as before. She took my hand as I described what had happened to me the previous week. She reminded me (without prompting) to keep writing and to get my book published. She told me she would repeat the treatment the following day, but don’t worry, I had had the symptoms a long time and I would need to be patient. Once again I was to wear white, avoid cold food and drinks and drink a glass of water kept overnight by the side of the bed. We left a photograph of ourselves with her so she could continue to help us once we returned to England.
Since then, my wife’s symptoms have not returned and I have noticed a steady improvement day by day. Unusually, the long flight back from Sao Paulo to London barely affected me. Sceptical? Perhaps I was once, but no longer. Placebo? There’s an element of this in every healing, but this experience taught me that neither belief in the process nor the healer is always necessary for positive results to be achieved.
I think of the line of cars and queue of people outside the Hopital de Senhor before sunrise that morning. Surely all these people cannot be wrong? No drugs, no blades, stitches, lasers, antibiotics or radioactive devices – wouldn’t it be good if everyone embraced the extraordinary gifts of this friendly nun and the many others with similar gifts around the world?
©David Lawrence Preston, 15.3.2016
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