Jackie showed up at All Saints Episcopal Church on the same Sunday morning as our new rector, Mel. Slight, short, with white hair and a kindly manner, she looked like the sort of new member destined to
serve on the altar guild.
Years later, I accused her of entering All Saints under false pretenses.
“We had no idea you were a radical,” I said. “You came through the
door in disguise.”
Jackie lifted her chin and smiled. “I’ve always been known for my
eccentricities,” she said.
Jackie had moved to Iowa City to live with her sister and was of an
age when most people are winding down their lives. In many ways,
Jackie was just getting started. Over the next dozen years she became my
mentor, my friend, and my inspiration for how to live fully in the spirit.
She grew up in California, where her parents married and divorced
each other three times, and during her childhood Jackie attended 15
different schools. I asked her once how she’d emerged from that chaos
such a stable and happy person. “What do you mean?” she asked me
with genuine surprise. “I had a wonderful childhood. It taught me to see
change as an adventure. And when we were in foster care with a Mexican
family I even learned Spanish.”
The most painful chapter in Jackie’s life was her son Charlie’s death
from multiple sclerosis. But once again Jackie wrestled something good
from hardship because her son’s long illness helped launch her interest
in complementary healing. She became trained in Healing Touch, a
technique of channeling energy to support mind, body, and spirit.
Soon after she arrived at All Saints, Jackie started giving Healing
Touch treatments to the staff and parishioners. Our rector was
supportive because his wife had received Healing Touch when she was
undergoing treatment for breast cancer. A few members were skeptical.
(“This thing that new woman is offering, that touch thing,” one of them
told me. “I hope she doesn’t give people the impression she’s doing
anything real.”) A turning point came after a longtime member, well-respected in the parish, started receiving Healing Touch treatments after
being diagnosed with cancer.
HOW ONE CHURCH STARTED
A HEALING TOUCH MINISTRY
THAT TOOK OFF LIKE WILDFIRE,
KINDLED BY THE LOVE OF THE
WHO FOUNDED IT.
BY LORI ERICKSON