By David Ritchey, Sacred Paths Writer
In the medical world, from time to time healings occur that simply can’t be scientifically explained. One such healing recently occurred for my daughter.
After relatively minor foot surgery, she developed a severe infection of the flesh around the incision. Several weeks later, with the administration of intra-veinous antibiotics, things seemed to be under control.
Then, on a Sunday afternoon, the infection flared up dramatically. She was taken to the emergency room where a variety of tests determined that a new infection had developed inside the bone and had already caused significant damage.
A couple of days later, she went into surgery again. Her toe joint had to be removed, but the toe itself was able to be saved. The surgeon scraped out the dead and damaged material, packed the bone with an antibiotic gel, and sent samples off to the pathology lab for testing.
When the lab results came back, her surgeon reported to her that they showed no evidence of active bacteria. He admitted to being mystified and said he had no explanation for what had occurred because it was “a medical impossibity.”
When my daughter and I discussed the possibilities, I pointed out that a prayer circle had been organized for her a couple of hours before her surgery by Stephen M. Heilakka, the spiritual director of my church, Sacred Paths Community in Plumsteadville. She and I agreed that it was possible we were witnessing the power of prayer in action, but, as she said, “How do you explain that to a scientifically-minded doctor?” Perhaps one doesn’t, but the possibilities are most interesting.
The unusual events of the story don’t end there, however. Stephen asked me to share those events the following Sunday at the Sacred Paths’ Gathering — the focus of which was already scheduled to be prayer. I did so.
After the Gathering, one of the congregants told me he thought he might have a similar problem. He had experienced a wound to his foot several days earlier and had chosen to ignore it. By Sunday, however, he was in considerable pain and his foot was red and inflamed. I recommended that he see a doctor immediately.
His wife told me that he had been resistant to attending Sacred Paths that morning, but that she had insisted because she “just knew that there was something important that we needed to hear” — and it was now clear that that was the story I had to tell. She then loaded her husband in their car and took him directly to the emergency room.
His tests showed significant bone damage and an active bacterial infection — very similar to what had been found in my daughter’s case. Surgery was scheduled for a couple of days later — again preceded by a prayer circle organized by Stephen.
Preliminary post-surgical reports indicate that he had to have a toe removed, but the foot, itself, was able to be saved. Clearly, if he had waited a few more days, his prognosis would have been considerably worse.
The similarity of the two cases, and my telling the story of the first case having a significant effect on the outcome of the second case, can, of course, be written off as nothing more than “coincidence.” I am inclined to wonder, however, if it might be an instance of “synchronicity” (a term from Jungian psychology) — that the “coincidences” are too precise and too meaningful to be the result of random chance. Might it be that something akin to cause-and-effect was operating here?