My recently published novel began to stir in my mind thoughts of my own miraculous healing from metastasized breast cancer in 1985. I attribute my healing to my intense study and, finally, understanding of the principles of A Course in Miracles—most significantly, surrender to the Will of God whose purpose for me is only happiness.
That healing resulted in a non-fiction book, The Five Stages of Death and Dying Getting Well, published in 1992. When my much-loved younger brother Tim died of metastasized melanoma in 1996, all of my understandings about healing were deeply challenged, and a novel began to take shape. After the story had topped 500 pages, it was clear I was writing two stories, one being the first part of the story, which is picked up years later in the second novel. This first novel became Looking Through Water published in 2010, with a sequel to follow.
“Are supernormal abilities the spawn of the devil, or a gift from the Divine?”
In Looking Through Water, that is the question for Addie, gifted with a healing touch and caught between her parents, Jake and Rose Sawyer, who sharply disagree on the source of her gifts.
Growing up in an Oregon coastal town in the 40’s and 50’s, Addie at age five sees her grandpa’s ghost at his funeral. Jake is horrified, and Rose, who covertly studies pre-Course paths to Truth, is captivated. When Addie later reveals an electrifying healing touch, her parents’ conflicts over religious beliefs escalate, and the strictly literal Bible church founded by Jake’s family gets involved. Addie, caught in the middle, assumes as children will, that she is the reason for her parents’ battles, and tries to give up her healing gift.
When Magdalena, a famous healer from Finland, visits and becomes her mentor and friend, Addie is determined to make healing her life work. But when her healing touch saves her brother Joe’s life, and the church gets wind of it, all hell breaks loose.
Addie struggles to save her family, understand her unique gifts, and plan a course for her future, while dealing with the calamities triggered by each of her parents.
Addie and her mother seek to understand the Divine, and many Course concepts pop up in pre-Course terms. You will recognize a “sacred moment,” for example, as a holy instant. In this excerpt, Addie struggles to understand the ego. She uses a Finnish word, henki, as a name for the Voice for God, which she often hears inside herself. Kyky is the Finnish name for “gift,” which she uses to name her healing touch.
EXCERPT from Looking Through Water [ed. note: henki is a Finnish word meaning “Spirit” or “Soul”]
“What’s he thinking about? Me being an instrument of the devil?” I didn’t like to think about it myself, didn’t want to think maybe my henki was wrong and maybe what Mom called a healing touch might actually be from the devil.
Mom turned the oven on low, put in the plate of pork chops and closed the door. “He’s got to get his mind around something he knows is true, but his church says it’s not.”
“What’s that?” I said.
She dumped a Mason jar of peas into a pot and set it on the stove, and turned around to lean against the stove. “You’ll have to ask him what he really believes. Maybe some time when you’re a little older. Right now, he’d probably just tell you what he thinks he ought to, to try to keep you scared about the devil.”
“Well, sometimes I believe in the devil, too,” I said.
“You do? Why on earth…?”
I took a big deep breath and sat up straight in the chair. “Well, you know that little red devil that’s on the Underwood Deviled Ham can?”
“Mercy! It’s just a symbol! It’s not real.”
“Well of course I know it isn’t real. But one just like it dances on my shoulder and whispers in my ear. Whispers things like, ‘go ahead, go ahead,’ when it’s something I know I shouldn’t do. Or ‘nah, just skip it,’ when it’s something I should do, like say my prayers before I go to sleep. Sometimes I’m just too sleepy.”
Sometimes the little devil told me to do fun things that got me in trouble, like the night I put all the barn kittens in a burlap bag and carried them into the house, then put them all under the covers in Joey’s bed. Joey loved it, but I got sent to bed early, right after I had to gather up all the kittens and take them back out to the barn.
She closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead like she had a headache. “You spend too much time looking at labels on cans, Addie.”
She opened her eyes. “You don’t have a personal devil. I know Dad believes in a devil, and hell, but I strongly disagree. How could a loving divine intelligence need to punish anyone? There is no such thing as the devil. So there couldn’t be a devil dancing on your shoulder.”
“But it whispers to me, too, like Fig! I hear it in my head! Or maybe my neck. Somewhere like that.”
“Listen to me, Addie Belle. That’s not a real devil, it’s just your…let’s call it your mischief self. Pay no attention and it will go away.”
That was a big relief about my mischief self. Unless Mom was wrong and Dad was right about the devil.
“Is mischief self the opposite of sixth sense? The way the devil is the opposite of God?”
Any minute now she’d say I asked too many questions.
“It’s just so hard to define these things, especially to a child.”
That was her way of saying I asked too many questions. She pulled out a chair, sat down to face me. “Here’s what I believe.” She ticked off sentences on her fingers. “A sin is just a mistake, not something to be punished. Jesus is a beloved child of God, just like all of us are, and God wouldn’t sacrifice one of his children in order to save the others. A loving father would not condemn his children to hell for their mistakes. There’s no such thing as the devil. Children are born innocent. That little devil you talk about—it’s just your mischief self. If you get quiet and listen, you’ll hear that other voice instead, your…sixth sense. Sixth sense you should listen to, and mischief self not.”
But I liked listening to the mischief self, too. Sometimes it had good ideas. Fun ideas. Trouble ideas. Getting sent to bed early about the kittens was worth it, it was so fun seeing Joey chasing them all over his room and some escaping into the kitchen so everybody had to chase them. And the first time I missed the school bus and walked the railroad tracks to school and thumbed a ride on the handcar when the rail inspectors came by. They let me help pump their seesaw to make it go. After that, I missed the school bus on purpose sometimes, and spent the whole day walking the railroad tracks, finding places to explore, riding the handcar with the rail inspectors, eating my sandwiches by the side of the tracks, waving at the train when it went by. After about the fifth time, the principal called Mom and asked if I was sick. She drove around looking for me, but never thought of the railroad tracks. When I walked home as if I’d just gotten off the bus, I told her I’d been in school all day, I was such a quiet person they must have not seen me.
She didn’t believe me. But after that I found other ways to listen to my mischief self.
“What now?” We were close to the end of this conversation, I could tell.
“You and Dad have opposite beliefs for just about everything. How am I supposed to know what to believe?”
Mom studied her hands in her lap. When she looked up, her mouth was a straight line, her eyes steady. “You’ll just have to make up your own mind about things. Neither one of us can tell you what’s right for you.”
“Well, I believe my sixth sense is real. Otto calls it henki. I’m not sure if my mischief self is real or just my imagination. How do I tell the difference?”
“Your sixth sense—henki?—is quieter than your mischief self, and sometimes you may feel it in your belly rather than hear it in your head.”
Mom sat for a minute. “But in your case, you might actually hear it. I wouldn’t rule that out. A girl who has other gifts…well, who knows.”
“I think I still kind of believe in a real devil, even if the little one on my shoulder is just my mischief self.”
Mom looked at me as if I’d taken leave of all my senses, her mouth open in disbelief. She put the pan of mashed potatoes in the oven with the pork chops, and leaned against the stove. “I want you to tell me why you believe in the devil.”
“Because Dad said my hands were magic and that meant witchcraft. Which is from the devil.”
She laid her hand on top of my head. “Your healing touch is from God, not the devil. Try to remember that.”
*Judy Allen has been a student and teacher of A Course in Miracles since 1983. Her mother, Frances Reed, established the Reed Miracles Center in Portland in 1985, which Judy then co-directed for nearly twenty years; she edited and wrote semi-monthly articles for The Bridge, the newsletter for the Center. She also established and directed The Healing Place, a Center for Attitudinal Healing in Portland. She has given workshops on forgiveness and healing, and offered sessions at many ACIM conferences over the years. After she retired to become a full-time writer, her first novel Looking Through Water was published in 2010. Her ACIM-related blog includes some of her Bridge articles, at http://www.judyallen.wordpress.com. Her writing-related blog is at http://www.lookingthroughwater.wordpress.com. Looking Through Water can also be ordered from either of these blogs.