The C2S blog draws on the arts, the social and biological sciences to explore the many meanings of health and "dis-ease." Designed to be a locus where patients, their families and professionals can meet on a level playing field, it is the natural off-shoot of the Cell 2 Soul Online Journal. We encourage the submission of ideas, essays, poems, stories, humor, and timely reviews relating to the humanities and health care.
7.4.2015: Michiko Kakutai’s essay on the eulogy Obama delivered in Charleston on Friday June 26, 2015 is a moving and informative discussion of the speech and the week it was delivered in. He writes, “it [the speech] was the capstone to a dizzying and momentous week in which Southern politicians began calling for a renunciation of the Confederate battle flag, while the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act and found that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriages.
It was a week in which a lot of Americans felt they were actually watching the arc of history bend in front of their eyes*, and it was a eulogy that both spoke to the moment and connected that moment to the past and the future of what Mr. Obama calls the great “American experiment.”
* This quote originated with the 19th Century abolitionist, Theodore Parker (NPR segment). "I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice." A century later, Martin Luther King, Jr. paraphrased these words to great effect in his famous "Where Do We Go From Here?" speech of August 1967 to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, when he said, "The arc of the Moral Universe Is long, but It bends toward Justice".
So there I was, sitting on the curb outside the Farmer’s Market pharmacy in Los Angeles, minding my own business, waiting for my anti-nausea drugs to be filled, when out of nowhere a Baptist woman and her two children surrounded me. She asks if they could pray for my eternal soul. There was no mistaking the fact that I was not in good shape, reeling from the side effects of chemo, looking pretty peaked, complete with scarf-covered bald head and paled face to match. Surprisingly I had the wherewithal to respond.
“Well…you can pray for me if you wanna lady, but I have to be honest and let you know that I’m a proud, agnostic, gay Jew. Now…if you still wanna pray for me, then you go right ahead. I figure it can’t hurt.”
The woman moved quickly, instructing her children to take their positions.
“Robert, you take this nice lady’s left hand, and Vanessa, you take her right. Now children… close your eyes, bow your heads down, and listen to my words.” My head was bowed down too…between my knees…trying not to chuck my cookies. I heard the woman say all sorts of incredibly kind religious things. "Lorrrdy this and Our Fatherrrrr that..." She made beautiful wishes and dreams for me, for my future and for my health. I felt like I was a fancy dinner, being said grace over. Finally she concluded with a resounding “AAA-men” and her children followed suit.
“Amen”. That was me… the last ‘Amen’.
So…you might want to know… did it help? The prayers? The good vibes? Who the hell knows. One thing I do know is that they felt better for doing it, and I felt better for letting them. Then I went home and threw up. Pills and all.
About Marla: Her Web Site. A student at a Canadian high school wrote this to her after hearing a presentation. "I feel obliged to thank you for you have given me insight into how to speak with friends and family when they are ill or sad. I'm not sure if it was the brilliant inspirational words or your charming, charismatic aura that made me so enchanted with your story but I hope to see more of you soon." For student's full letter: Download Hello Marla Lukofsky