The dull grey figure lies prostrate. He has given up the fight to live and is slowly sinking into the arms of death – hopefully to an oblivion that will free him from disease and pain, from the lethargy that has crept into his life and heart and taken away his energy and will to live, even the little power it would take to open his eyes.
If he could open them, he would see that he is not alone. If he should become conscious of company he would merely assume it to be a nurse or someone waiting with a shroud to prepare him for burial. He’s so very close to that moment in his mind.
His friends have laid flowers at is head – various shades of mauve and purple – the colours of pain and death, associated with crucifixion. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ – God on the Cross. But he is too far from the world to even think of spiritual things now, as he races towards that borderland between life and death – closer and closer.
But suddenly something changes. He feels a strange movement. Is this it? No. It can’t be – it’s the wrong direction. Instead of being pushed into that dark abyss of oblivion, he feels himself being pulled in the opposite direction – literally being raised up from the brink but leaving the disease and pain behind, still prostrate and grey on the bed beneath him. Yes, this must be it, the dying, not to death but to life.
Somewhere a voice, a quiet, reassuring voice, reaches out to his ears and raises his consciousness …
‘I am the Lord who is healing you.’
In his mind the world stands still. His body is wrapped in a strange warmth. Could he see himself, he would say it was glowing. And he is moving, up, up …
‘Open your eyes,’ says the voice. But he doesn’t want to. He feels as though encased in a spell and if he opened his eyes reality would break it and he would fall – and go on falling – back into that painful state between worlds and the stark reality of death.
‘Open your eyes. See.’ The voice speaks again.
And again he resists. He feels cocooned in light. He can’t let go of the sensation. It is exhilarating. If this is death, oh, welcome!
‘Open your eyes.’ The voice becomes more insistent. More real. Much nearer. He has the sensation of sitting now – something he hasn’t been able to do without pain for so long, yet he feels nothing – except a growing awareness of sunshine permeating over and through his tired body, reviving it, restoring it.
Now he wants to see what is about him – what Heaven really looks like. It seems he has arrived so painlessly, so easily and smoothly he’s hardly known it has happened.
But if Heaven is full of sunshine and warmth, what will he look like now? How can he live in beauty with an emaciated body? No. This isn’t real. He is imagining it – pie in the sky. He must be hallucinating.
‘Open your eyes.’ The voice is much closer now. And he doesn’t just hear the voice. He feels a movement over his eyes, like a whisper of wind penetrating the force that is keeping his lids fast closed.
And in that instant they are open – the glare of the sun almost blinds him so his hand automatically seeks to shield them.
His hand? It has moved. Yet he hasn’t been able to do so much as raise it to his lips to feed himself.
He pulls his hand back and studies it – a firm, healthy hand. The sunlight catches the gold of his signet ring ans it glistens on his finger. And through his fingers he can see a figure – a rainbow figure – reaching into the brightness.
‘Who are you?’ The words hang on the air like a surprise. He has spoken!
‘I am the Lord who heals … ‘ comes the receding voice.
‘Where am I?’ This has to be a dream. It isn’t real.
‘Look around you – and believe.’
The rainbow figure disappears as the sun’s rays momentarily overwhelm it. He closes his eyes again and there is the rainbow man, in his mind’s eye, statuesque, yet ethereal.
And with the receding figure goes the sun’s piercing glare. The man opens his eyes to a lesser light – reality. He painlessly turns his head – to see a tree, a distant field and lush green bushes silhouetted against an azure sky – and realises he is looking through a window. Behind him he glimpses the bank of purple flowers.
He looks down and sees his pyjama-clad body, feels the strength returned, and gets slowly to his feet. He can walk again.
He seeks out a mirror and looks long and hard at the face reflected in it – a face that has known so much pain and suffering yet now there seems reflected a light in his eyes that he hadn’t been aware of before. The blazing sunlight that had swallowed up the rainbow figure is there, in his eyes.
Turning back to the window and the unchanged view, now enhanced by the sun’s creeping shadows, he voices his amazement …
‘This is real. I am alive!’
© Patricia Batstone, 2015
[Mark 16:17,18; Matthew 10:8; Exodus 15:26; Psalm 103:2,3]
Healing is plate 22 in the book The Painted Word: Paintings by John Reilly. You can order the book and explore this fascinating artist’s other work at www.thejohnreillygallery.co.uk
See also Jacqui Hicks's review of The Painted Word.