Wasn’t it great to hear about Kath Evans’ recovery from lung cancer on Australian Story this week on the ABC? The fact that she attributes her extraordinary healing to intervention by the then Blessed Mary MacKillop impels me to question, with an open mind, the conventional wisdom on health and healing. We heard how doctors diagnosed the terminal illness, giving her weeks to live. We also heard that many oncologists examined the X-rays and listened to details from her doctors, her family and of course Kath herself following her healing.
Based on my understanding of the report, from the time that she and her family and friends started to pray to the now Saint Mary MacKillop, there was continuous improvement and finally the verdict from her doctor …. there is no evidence of cancer at all. Her experience seems to confirm both the power of thought and the impact of love on our health.
Could it be that her childlike faith in the power of goodness and purity, and recognition of the presence of mothering love, brought a full healing? Many of the people who Jesus healed shared that childlike trust in his goodness as God’s representative, and were also healed.
Scientists might say that these healings could be explained as the placebo effect. For quite some time, physicians and researchers have noticed and studied expectations of betterment (the placebo effect) and fear of suffering (the nocebo effect) and how they influence health for better or worse.
These discoveries are pointing researchers in new directions, to seeking answers to how these effects occur. They are asking, “To what extent does consciousness affect health? Are there any limits to the mind controlling the body? And, is it possible to govern thought so that one could expect health on a consistent basis?”
A pioneer in the mind/health connection in the late 1800s, Mary Baker Eddy, investigated these questions on her way to discovering the power of God, the divine mind, to change thought and restore the body. She wrote a thought-changing book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
Just yesterday, I heard about a physician who became quite interested in that book. He posted a passage from it on the wall in his office. Later a patient with cancer was sent to him by an oncologist for medically assisted pain management because little else could be done for him. Surprisingly the man got better until he was healed. When asked ‘in the name of science what healed you?’ he replied that it was that passage the doctor had written on the wall in his office. He’d written it down while waiting for the doctor and prayed and pondered with that passage until he was healed.
The passage began, “Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual, — neither in nor of matter, — and the body will then utter no complaints. If suffering from a belief in sickness, you will find yourself suddenly well. Sorrow is turned into joy when the body is controlled by spiritual Life, Truth and Love.”
Might these similar healings have a common thread? Both cancer patients experienced healing when their thought about disease and the nature of existence changed.
Kath Evans’ recovery and the associated beatification of Saint Mary MacKillop continue to spark debate. This may be a good thing. Hopefully, we can glean something new from the conversation. For some, it may be that the human mind governs our bodies more than we knew. For others, it might be an introduction to how mind/thought governed by the divine may be even more helpful. The realisation that what have been considered miracles in the past may now have a scientific explanation, and thus could be consistently replicated, has broad impact on everyone’s health care.