"Don’t You Do It, I’ll Do It"
“Don’t you do it, I’ll do it.” The words seem simple but seemed at the same time to be a message for my entire life.
It was October 1990. I was going through a deep depression. It seemed like depression had become my way of life, but this one seemed deeper, more desperate. I walked into my Tuesday night prayer group feeling so overwhelmed with darkness and despair that my inner being seemed to crumble. Physically the headaches I had been plagued with since 1981 intensified. Mentally all sense of what was real seemed to vanish and I had no place to rest my mind. Spiritually I felt totally vanquished with an image of a God that was giving me over to demons for torment for all my many sins. Jokingly, to cover up my true feelings, I said to the group “You guys better pray for me. I feel if you don’t I won’t be around on this Earth much longer.”
The day before I had reached an intense low and had called my friend Kathy to talk. I had met Kathy the year before. She was like an angel that God had sent to me, that just wouldn’t let me give up, and constantly provided affirmation for all the good she saw in me. She told me I could call her anytime day or night if I needed to talk and this was one of those times. We met during her lunch hour and went for a walk in Blackwell Woods, a local forest preserve. We talked for a long time and as we were finishing our conversation I related to Kathy my love for the American Indian people and the purity of their Spirit and their connection to the Earth. A connection I needed desperately. In my travels I had spent sometime with Rolling Thunder, a medicine man from the Cherokee nation. At one time he related that there was a time when he had become worn down to where his health was affected. He went out into the woods to pray and fast in order to regain his strength, which was his practice. He knew there was a black sorcerer on the West Coast whose sole purpose was to destroy him but he knew of his own protection so he didn’t pay him any attention. But the power of evil proved too strong for him and he became disoriented and later became unconscious. Thanks to his German shepherd that was with him in the woods the message for help was communicated to his wife Spotted Fawn who came to his rescue.
His story then shifts to a meeting with his friends, other powerful medicine men as they jointly prayed and eventually defeated this impending evil force.
As I related this story to Kathy I added, “Maybe that’s what I need. I feel there’s a powerful force trying to do me in, and by myself I’m just not strong enough.”
So here I was at my Tuesday night prayer group. The group had formed a few months before. Our common bond stemmed from pilgrimages we had made to Medjugorje, Yugoslavia, a small village where Mary the Mother for God, was said to be appearing to six young visionaries. We all had had personal conversion experiences, the result of our pilgrimages, and decided to form a group devoted to prayer for our Lady’s intentions, as well as a support group in order to more fully follow Our Lady’s basic messages to the world of: Peace, Prayer, Fasting, Conversion, and Faith.
The group was small but strong in prayer and they said they would pray for me. Our evening of prayer consisted of: a fifteen decade rosary containing all of the mysteries (Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious). The Chaplet of Divine Mercy (a powerful prayer for God’s Mercy given thru Sr. Faustina) and a Peace Rosary (consisting of the Apostle’s Creed and seven times The Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be), which was to be prayed, according to Our Lady, especially for those needing healing.
We had begun our rosary and I was in my usual place on one of the kneelers in the back of the room. About half way thru the joyful mysteries Candy walked to the back of the room and placed a hand on my shoulder. Candy was one of those women in whom I felt a strong maternal instinct, grounded in the earth, not afraid to get her hands soiled in the dirty jobs of this world, a grounding element in the group, which helped keep our feet on the ground when things seemed to be getting too spiritual. I felt the love of God thru her touch and started to cry. It was during this time, Candy related after all fifteen decades, that she felt God telling the group to pray over me. She walked over to Donna kneeling in a pew of the other side of the room, looking for confirmation for her word from God.
Donna was one of those people with obviously powerful gifts. During her first trip to Medjugorje Donna received several dramatic healings, including a total healing from Mitral Valve Prolapse and a complete inability to kneel due to arthritic knees. She returned from her trip with an ability to pray over people and help facilitate the healing process.
Candy bent down and whispered something to Donna but Donna merely shrugged her shoulders and shook her head indicating that she wasn’t receiving the same message as Candy.
About half way through the Sorrowful Mysteries Donna turned around wide-eyed with a big affirming nod. They would pray over me.
After the fifteen decade rosary we moved to the front of the room where we would pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Candy related that earlier during the rosary she had seen in her minds eye a vision of the group praying over me while I fell back into her arms resting in the spirit.
As we prayed The Divine Mercy I kept thinking of how many times I had been prayed over before, people on both sides falling backward and resting in the spirit (a state of being where one became totally submissive to the workings of the Holy Spirit), but I wouldn’t fall, I couldn’t fall. Something inside of me seemed to block the workings of the Spirit. I couldn’t seem to trust. But what if they prayed over me now and nothing happened.
I prayed to God that our word from him would be true, but what could I do to insure that it would. When I listened inside for His answer all I heard were the words in my heart “Don’t you do it. I’ll do it.”
Again I began to worry. Would I feel it when it did come? Would I know when to fall backward resting in the Spirit. The time is short. What should I do Lord? Again I hear the words “Don’t you do it. I’ll do it.”
“Alright”, I said, “I’ll rot standing up but I won’t fake this.”
We finish the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and everyone formed a circle around me to pray the Peace Rosary for my healing. Donna held my hands and all began to pray. I seemed to experience a slight peace as they prayed. But it seemed so slight. Was I imagining it? Was I creating it? I wanted peace so bad.
As each successive prayer was prayed I waited for a mighty sign. Candy was positioned behind me incase she heard right. But each prayer came and went and I felt nothing.
Then the peace rosary was finished. Still nothing. Donna let go of my hands and stepped a few steps backward. The rest stood back knowing they had done all that they could. I remained standing, head bowed, feeling that I must have blocked God’s grace again. We had failed.
Then I heard Candy’s voice in one last minute plea. “Lord, just fill Tom with your Holy Spirit.”
Just at that moment I felt one mighty blast of air shoot into my mouth as from a giant air compressor. Immediately I felt two hands on my arms just below the shoulders. I felt my shoulders being rolled backwards as I fell backwards into Candy’s arms as she lowered me to the floor. I was resting in the Spirit.
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When I once again became aware of being in a room with my prayer group, we regained our composure and spoke of what had just happened.
Candy was surprised that what she had seen in her vision actually happened. Donna said that as the group finished praying the Peace Rosary and she let go of my hands and stood back, at that moment she saw a being of white light that appeared like the Lord or an Angel move from behind her and toward me at a speed where he would have touched me at the exact time I felt my shoulders being rolled back and fell backwards.
All knew that God had been among us that evening and I in particular had experienced the touch of The Master’s Hand.
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After the powerful experience I had that Tuesday night with my prayer group, I thought I would be healed instantly. Instead, in the days that followed, my headache seemed to intensify. As the weekend approached I knew I had a few days off, and I had an intense desire to spend it with the Lord. I thought of different retreat houses I could go to, but there would probably be someone there that I knew, and I really felt the Lord asking that my time be with Him alone. So I decided to go back out to Blackwell Woods. It was not the popular season, and it was a semi-cloudy Friday, a cool day in October, so I had the place to myself.
Before I left to go there I thought to myself, ‘maybe I should take my guitar with me, maybe I’ll receive inspiration for a song,' but the inner prompting said, “No don’t bring your guitar.” Then I thought maybe I should bring the drawing I was working on for a Christmas Card, and God could speak to me while I was drawing, but again the voice in my heart spoke, “No, don’t bring your drawing.” What could the Lord want that needed my full attention?
I drove to Blackwell and went to my favorite place. I parked in a lot situated at the end of the road, high above the lake. I found a cove out of the wind, but overlooking the lake, and sat down on the grass. All I remember was a certain sense of peace and well-being which was unusual in those days. I listened but felt so comfortable, and spiritually right where I was suppose to be, that I really didn’t care if I heard anything.
All I can say is, I sat there for three hours. I knew without a doubt that the Lord was there with me, but I can’t say that there was one thing in the entire three hours that I felt He was trying to tell me. The best I can figure was that the Lord needed to be with me, and needed my full attention. I had the feeling that there are so many people in the world praying AT the Lord, asking Him for this or that, that many don’t take the time to really know Him. Maybe He wants us with Him the same way He wanted us with Him in Gethsemane.
I remember driving home with this increased sense of well-being, and consciously feeling the world open like a flower before me. Even the traffic lights all turned green as I approached them, as if they knew.