It was late summer of 2000, and my student and I had been doing healings all day under our sun shelter at the flea market in Chinle, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation. We were tired, and the heat was oppressive (over 100 degrees), and we had a gathering of over 40 people watching in rapt attention every detail of our healing work.
I had just finished up with a woman who had severe headaches, and had successfully ridden her of the cause of them, when an ancient Navajo man sat in the healing chair. I could tell from his gait that the problem was going to be his legs. His daughter informed me that he didn’t speak but little English, and that his leg was bothering him terribly with arthritis. I told her that I knew what to do, and to let him know that there was nothing for him to do but relax.
In my healing work, I am drawn to the worst thing first, and was immediately drawn to his left leg. I started the process of getting his circulation restored, so that I could bring the healing energy through his arteries and veins into the affected area. The daughter began a conversation with another in the crowd, and the old man began to doze off, so I just went about my business.
I was beginning to get frustrated because I couldn’t seem to get the blood circulating into the knee area…something that was fairly easy to do. With the sweat building up on me, and the eyes of 40 strangers beating down on me, I increased my focus and determination. Again, the blood just wouldn’t seem to circulate. After five minutes of attempting the same moves, which had always worked in the past, I began to sweat profusely as the onlookers leaned in to see what the problem was.
The old man was dozing away, and the daughter had disappeared into the crowd, and the next few folks in line were wondering why it was taking so long. I redid and reworked everything I knew to do for the situation, and was about to give in in frustration, when the old man stirred, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, “sir.”
Knowing he was about to tell me that he didn’t feel any better, and knowing there was a big crowd waiting for me to fail, I became nervous and anxious and frustrated all at the same moment. I continued doing everything I knew to do, when the old man tapped me on the shoulder again, “sir”. Exasperated, I looked him square in the eyes, and asked, “yes?”. He lifted up on his pants leg and tapped the obvious prosthetic leg, saying, “this one is fake”, and pointed to his other leg as the one that was hurting.
After a few moments, the crowd realized what had happened, and this great roar of laughter erupted all around us. I was mortified, until one after another the people came up to pat me on the back. Joining in with the humor of the situation, when the clamor died down, I looked at the old man and said, “I was just seeing if I could bring it back to life,” which got a new eruption of laughter.
The whole situation served its purpose in letting everyone know that the mysterious white healer was only human, after all. It also reminded me, not for the first time, that it was indeed, not about me.