So, I’ve received the first initiation in Reiki.
We had a workshop, four of us who were taking the first initiation together, and we learned hand positions and mental techniques and several different versions of the history of Reiki (Joy isn’t sure which one is right so she just told us all of them), and then we all went through the initiation ritual. Joy had each of us sit still while she put her hands on us. It wasn’t a very ritual-like ritual, and while I sometimes think I can feel Reiki energy (whatever it is) the ritual didn’t feel like anything to me and I didn’t feel any different afterwards.
Joy called it an attunement. There are three, plus practical work, and we need the first two in order to get Joy’s vote to graduate. I think it’s supposed to open up whatever channels Reiki flows through so it can flow better, or something. I still don’t know what Reiki is, but Joy says I don’t have to know.
She’s a very practical person. It’s sort of surprising, because Joy is what I’d call New Age, and I’ve always kind of thought people like that were a bit flaky. I don’t know why. It’s true that she has some ideas that honestly sound kind of silly to me. But when something needs to be done, when there’s a lamb being born or an animal sick or one of her riding students having trouble with something, she’s not really about ideas. She just takes care of it. So she says Reiki works, and we don’t really need to know why.
There are ten of us from my yearling group taking Reiki, though Dillon and Raven D are taking it from Karen instead. There are a couple of more senior students taking it, too, so there’s thirteen of us in the group. It’s odd to be part of a class in one of the mastery areas, since so much of what I do is individual with Charlie. I kind of like having people to share the experience with.
Of course Andy’s part of the group, since this is laying on of hands, like what Jesus did. He’s been fascinated with Reiki ever since he found out about it last year, but apparently Joy thought he should get further along in his addiction recovery and simply receive Reiki treatments, before he tried to actually start practicing it himself. He was in the same initiation group I was and he’s just beside himself.
“But do you think this is actually what Jesus did?” I asked him the other day over lunch. He was going on and on about it, as he tends to when he gets excited about something. “I mean, don’t you think that, being the Son of God, He had some special powers we don’t?”
“Jesus said that if we had faith, the Holy Spirit would enter into us and we’d be able to do the same kinds of things He can do. We’re all the sons and daughters of God.” Andy sounded almost scolding when he said the last part. It’s true I’d heard as much in Sunday school, but never really thought about it. We didn’t do the whole laying on of hands thing.
“Yeah, but all this stuff with chakras and visualizing colors and everything?”
“Why not?” he asked happily. “Jesus is bigger than any one church.”
Reiki is one of those things that people around here take for granted. Like, something like a quarter of campus can do slight-of-hand, because of Allen. You don’t notice anymore if you see things appearing and disappearing or otherwise acting impossible, unless it’s an especially good trick. A lot of people are into horticulture or farming. I think half of the people on campus can play an instrument or sing well. We just pick up this stuff up, and even if you can’t do it yourself you start to take it for granted that everyone around you can.
Reiki is like that here, too. Someone gets sick or injured and there’ll be someone around who offers to lay hands on them. No one questions it.
Except me. Back in high school, I was always the first one of my friends willing to believe in this stuff, except for the people who actually were Wiccan. I let this one girl hypnotize me at a party once, when no one else would. I let my Wiccan friends bless my first car so I wouldn’t get in an accident with it. When someone started talking about past life experiences or prophetic dreams I didn’t laugh. I always thought all that stuff was cool. But now, all of a sudden I’m the one person who doubts.
Maybe I’m just being contrary or something.
But the other day, I was off campus—this sounds so totally prosaic, but I needed to buy new socks and underwear—and I stopped to get some lunch. I was walking into the restaurant, in past the bathrooms, when this woman stopped me and asked me to check on her husband in the men’s room. She said his COPD had gotten worse lately, and he’d been in there a long time.
I went in there and found this man, this hugely obese person, leaning against the sink, laboring to breathe. My first thought was that I really hoped he wasn’t going to need help walking or something, because there was no way I could support him. His clothes were drenched with sweat, I think with the effort of trying to breathe. COPD is a lung problem. I forget what it stands for.
“Sir, are you ok?” I asked. “Do you want me to get help?” Somehow, if I’m asking a stranger a question like that I always say sir or ma’am. He looked up at me and almost smiled.
“I’m ok,” he said. “I just…walked here from the john…I have to catch….my breath.”
“Can I do anything?” I asked. I really thought he should go to the hospital, but I didn’t feel like I should be the one to tell him.
“Yeah. Just…hang out a minute…ok? Make sure I don’t…keel over. My wife…send you?”
“Sir, I don’t think you should talk right now.” He nodded at me. Because I couldn’t think of anything else to do, I rubbed his back while we waited, these wide, slow circles on his wet shirt. And as I did it, I felt my hand heat up, and then my whole body. It really felt like something was flowing through me. The man straightened up.
“Ok, I feel a little better,” he said at last, and sounded it. “Hold the door for me, please?”
So I held the door and he slowly walked out to his wife. Before they left, he turned to me and thanked me, a real, heartfelt, thank you. I watched, and slowly he made it out to the car without having to stop again, though when he finally got there he eased himself into his seat and lay back, I think with his eyes closed, like one exhausted. His wife waved to me a little and they drove away.
What exactly did I do?