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The Healing Ground


ISSUE:  Summer 2002

Mimi was going to take me to her special
place, some kind of sacred healing ground, though
she never said whose. For over a year walking had
caused me great pain, and none of the doctors I
had seen gave me any help. I viewed Mimi’s invitation
as an excuse for an outing. I know the country
around here pretty well, but when Mimi started
turning down one twisting dirt road after another
at some point I knew I was lost. Mimi’s a reliable
person, nothing of the fruitcake in her. When she
finally stopped, the first thing I noticed was a
hole in the side of the hill surrounded by boulders.
“What’s that?” I said. “An Irish monk lived in there
some time in the sixteenth century,” she said.
“The Indians took care of him. They thought he
was a holy man.” “Do I have to crawl in there?”
I asked. “Oh no, nothing like that,” she said.
“They say he lived in that hole for thirty years,
praying all the time.” “I wonder what happened
to him. Did the Church make him a saint?” I said.
“Something ate him, a bear or a mountain lion. The
Indians thought it was a mountain lion,” she said.
“Mimi,” I said, “did you bring me all the way out
here just to tell me this story, not that it isn’t
a great story, ‘cause it is, but I’d also love to
see this “healing ground,” is that possible?”
“It’s right over there in that clearing. Come
on, I’ll show you,” she said. We had to push our
way through the brush and climb over some fallen
trees. It wasn’t that easy for me to get there,
but we got there, and I looked around, but could
see nothing special about the place. I mentioned
that to Mimi. “Except for that fairy ring of
mushrooms. That’s pretty cute,” I said. “You have
to stand in there and pray for the soul of the Irish
monk for ten minutes. That’s all,” she said. There’s
a new fruitcake status in store for you, Mimi, I
thought. “If that’s what it takes,” I said, “I’ll
do it.” I proceeded to stand in the circle of
mushrooms with my eyes closed and, sure enough,
I prayed for the soul of the little Irish monk.
He would have had to be little, because the hole
wasn’t all that big. I thought of his rosary and
his Bible, and the long winters of terrible cold
and snow. And his great peace when he met the lion.

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