On Brucellosis: Is the Devil in Your House?
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” – Joseph Campbell
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And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in they name; and we forbade him, because he followeth not with you. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us. Luke 9:49, 50
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But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. And he said unto her, For this saying go they way; the devil is gone out of they daughter. Mark 8:27-29
After being physically attacked, I would of course be in consultation with a psychologist. The frustrating thing about seeing a psychologist when you studied psychology yourself is that you already know what they’re thinking about after what you say, and the intellectual deducements they’re making from Adler, Freud, Maslow, Jung, etc. And this is kind of frustrating because you end up thinking up your own solutions to things before the therapist even gets to the point of where you are in your own head.
Nevertheless it was refreshing to meet Cathyrn, the church therapist, whom I met by referral even though I did not go to church. She was the only therapist who credited me with my own observations. So much so, in fact, that after a howl of laughter regarding my observations about people, said “I wish I could put blinders on you to prevent you from seeing so much. I know it is painful,” which, if you have an interest in psychology with a literary thirst, you might find her response a bit revealing of herself, at least to me.
I was always an introverted person. My father thought I would become a philosopher because I read all his philosophy books as a young girl, even expressing a special fondness for Voltaire. But that was a little later in life, when I began my search for God. I had to know the truth very fast. At the age of 16 I was planning my suicide. My fear was only that there might be an afterlife and I would remain as I was forever. That I would not escape my problems presented a whole kaleidoscope of thoughts. One thought that pervaded me was: If killing me was so hard, why not kill myself to live?
My parents did not know my plans because they were consumed with sickness. All they knew was that I was frantically searching for something and reading with fervor. This made my father the more a proud atheist, and my mother all the more a staunch Catholic, so you can see I had the best of both worlds that nurtured by search for the truth. [It was later in life that I would discover both were right and both were wrong.] If I did not want to go to catechism class, for example, all I had to do is ask my father if I had to and he always yelled back loud and clear (so mother could hear), “Of course not”! And my mother, frantic with worry, would yell back, “You bastard! Yes she is going”! and then to me, “Get in the car,” with a stern face like Betty Draper’s in Mad Men.
In truth I did not mind Sunday school but what I found creepy were the outfits the priests and nuns wore. And I was relieved years later when I read Carl Jung’s biography and discovered he found the church a little creepy too. [He actually, as a boy, refused to go into one and would go into a full tantrum rage if forced.] In fact, during one service I suddenly got up and ran out of the church and made a bee-line straight for the swing set on the church playground. My mother ran after me to find me face down on one of the swings (on my stomach) swinging like a bird only to hear her shouting behind me, “Get back here! Get back here now Cynthia! Now”! and I would ignore her. Suddenly, after pulling myself to a stop with my paten leather shoes, to my right appeared a long black gown with a cross dangling from it. I did not look up at his face because I knew it was Father Thomas. It was always Father Thomas.
Father Thomas was a “cool” priest, even when he wore long black gowns. That is because he rode a motorcycle, and was younger than all the others. He also was in the background most of my young adult life because he was regarded by all us kids as “one of us.” I knew he had a special fondness for me because at a young age I was asking some pretty tough questions, like “If God says we must confess to one another, why does the church say we must confess to a priest”? Father Thomas’ faced dropped and he was silent for awhile. “Why do I have to say prayers for you”? Father Thomas then responded, “You say them to God.” “No I don’t. God always knows my needs before I ask. That what He says. So why do I have to confess to you”? I also discovered in the bible that the “church” is really an individual’s “faith” upon which Jesus Christ founded his “church” and as history shows us the building as the “church” today is representative of this truth.
I do not remember whether I returned to the church, but if I did, it was not of my own accord, because I was young and did not know what it all meant. One thing for sure though, I remained in my life betwixt and between the extremes of my parents. Both were correct in that they drew upon the elements of their own extroverted beliefs and life experience; and then they were both wrong because they were seeking some value in their objective consciousness, and as far as I could tell, nothing subjective entered into the equation.
It would naturally follow then that their relationship became an ongoing microcosmic-like war, much like we see today in the mass population of the United States. They destroyed each other in what appeared to be a vehement hatred. Voltaire and Father Thomas had nothing to do with it, not really. It was life that had them, a search and thirst for meaning and love that they projected on each other that could have been – or should have been – found within themselves if they were conscious of the love they really had for each other. But they were “unevenly yoked” as they say; or, not “yoked” at all.
Not only did I present arguments for why I should not go to church, or have to, I also remember making up things to say in the confessional because I could not remember any sins I committed. And then of course on Good Friday, in particular, my father reminded us all that the church’s requirement that we not eat meat was not a command from God at all but was a way to increase profits for the fish industry, which made my mother very upset.
My mother loved God. It did not matter whether one said a negative thing about the church. The spiritual life was not a lie. And yet, despite her convictions, she was falling apart – in a very big way. It was not here, but later, that I discovered my mother’s illness was a purposeful affliction, one that our own government bestowed upon her in response to its hatred of her religion and her face. That is because as a daughter of a meat buyer, in the years before antibiotics were used on cattle in this country her father would provide testimony in government hearings about various cattle diseases.
No surprise to me then my mother was psychic. She was sensitive to spiritual phenomena because she was filled with great physical pain and mental suffering, which often results in use of that part of the mind not awakened when well. She grew up in Harrison, New York, with three brothers, one of whom became a doctor. She was the most beautiful woman in the neighborhood. She was also nominated “best looking” in both her high school and college yearbooks. When I asked her about her psychic abilities before she died at the age of 80, she said she always had the ability, even as a child. In fact, her psychic abilities were well known in my neighborhood growing up, when all my sisters’ friends would come see her when pregnant to ask what sex the child would be. My mother got it right 100% of the time. Not only this, but if anything happened to any one of us in the family, she would call immediately with the fact that she knew it did; like when my sister was nearly attacked by a vicious dog and so frightened she nearly passed out, my mother called her to say, “Something frightened you. Are you okay”? [This is why, I must confess, I never think it is a big deal when I meet psychics, perhaps because I have never met a greater psychic than my mother.]
Her mother died when she was five years old. From the youngest age, my mother told me, she had an ability to see people as they truly were. In fact, as her mind deteriorated before my eyes when I was just three years old (and I can remember it vividly), I understood even then that something was doing this to her on purpose. That it would be happening to her meant that it could happen to me too, and even though I was not sure of God’s existence, I nevertheless told Him in my prayers that if He did this to me, I would kill myself.
At sixteen years of age I was doing poorly in school. I was sick all the time, with great pain in my right kidney. I couldn’t concentrate; I urinated persistently and was fraught with a deep depression. I skipped school numerous times and would forge my mother’s handwriting on a note to bring to school that explained my absence. I forged her signature and handwriting well and the notes were accepted on face value without question.
As my depression deepened I was confronted with my promise to God. I had read as many books as possible to prepare myself, and I was convinced that I could not go on. I was convinced also that God was a sadist; that He could NEVER damn me to hell if He created me to become who I was. It was His fault, all of it, and He knew exactly I was right – because I was born with what my mother had. I was chosen at birth to be who I was.
In a final plea for a response, in my last ditch effort to be convinced that God exists, I went into my backyard consumed with the deepest emotional pain imaginable, that even years later when I nearly died from a burst appendix and screamed at the top of my lungs could not compare. I growled up to the sky in an utterly lost fit of consciousness, and my voice was like a howl that even frightened my sister, who appeared on the back porch to scream for me to stop and crying also, not understanding what was happening, and then disappeared to get help.
In that moment, God answered. In a sensation of wind He went through my body and mind. It was a tangible love. It was real. It was love so abundantly I could not contain it all, provoking in me fear and awe, that was quickly quieted by the love. It was wind from without and it permeated within. I was suddenly frozen with a bewilderment and peace, but a little afraid too, because I remember I looked around, in my back, in my front, to see if I could delineate another cause of this great peace. Nothing was there. The magnificence of it was indescribable, and I was changed in an instant.
I no longer felt sick and there was an abundance of clarity in mind. Mystified so young, I did not tell anyone about the experience for two reasons: I did not fully understand it, and also I was afraid people would think me like my mother, which I could not bear, being as I was painfully shy and introverted, not wanting to be part of any large group or accepted by anyone. So I gave praise in my silence which is all I could think to do in my gratefulness towards a God I had not fully comprehended. I fasted so He would know that I knew it was Him and I loved Him in return.
I also excelled at school shortly thereafter and my high school transcripts are my only evidence. I made first cuts in the Junior Olympics and awarded Student of the Month because my teachers were just as amazed as I was. Everything became so much easier to do, and like the praise I gave God in fasting, I also gave praise in working my body to perfection. I not only became engaged in sports with a passion, I also never ate sugar, drank or smoked (even though I was fooling around with cigarettes once in awhile with friends before the experience).
It was about thirty years later, while I was in the throes of an untreated burst appendix, in a conversation with my mother, that she said, “He helped you.” I said, “What”? I was completely frozen in disbelief. “What do you mean, Ma”? I asked. “He helped you. Don’t you remember in the backyard”? I was silent. Then she said, “He seems to always give you what you ask for.” I was floored, transfixed. I shouted to her in a fearful kind of anger, “How do you know this? How can you know”? She would not answer but only say, “It’s God’s plan.” "What do you mean, 'his plan'"? "Everyone will be treated for their infections," she replied.
It is important for the reader to know that I did not then, and do not now, regard my spiritual experience as a “conversion” to the Christian faith. My conversion came much later. My spiritual experience, however, was God’s response to my desperate demand for an answer, and that I understand God’s response as only His making His reality known to me, in much the same way Christ’s unconditional healing of the masses made His acquaintance known to people even if there were only a handful of followers. It was only after my conversion to Christianity and my subsequent burst appendix for which I received only oral antibiotics to survive, that I came to understand that my mother’s and father’s illnesses were the result of a purposeful exploitation, an experiment, and made clear to me only by physicians failure to provide me medical care as well.
It is my belief that by seeing ourselves inwardly our view of the world is changed. It is also what allowed me to forgive my parents. I was awakened to their acute sufferings through my own life and suffering, and no longer were they my parents but people who were no longer responsible for who I am or what I had become, or what I will become. I learned also that there is no devil in disease, only the devil in the spiritual darkness of people who exploit others, as Jesus Christ made clear in His healing ministry, and also the reason He appeared to me, as though He were saying, “They will gather against you, but not by me.” For we know that He healed the Gentile and Jew when others knew how to heal them but did not and would not; because they believed that those sick were cursed by God, when it was not God but man who cursed them.