About five years ago I attended a symposium for nursing home professionals. There were multiple booths where sponsors displayed information on services and products, typical of these events. As I explored the booths I saw both important and irrelevant information, I filled my courtesy bag with brochures, pens, note pads, cups, and samples of lotions and skin care ointments for geriatric use.
Months later, I found myself using some of the lotions samples. It was in the winter, when my skin would often get dry. I didn’t find any significant difference between the geriatric and my traditional skin lotions until I tried one with surprising results. It’s was a very thick ointment, but, rather than airing a fragrance it smelled more like medication. The lotion was labeled Lantiseptic. I generously applied it to my hands. “Mother, you smell like old lady,” my son, Ernie, said, making fun of the ointment’s odor. Amazingly, the next day my hands looked smooth. I decided to save a couple of the ointment samples for any extreme skin dryness in the future.
About a year later, I observed that my son’s hands were very dry, and the skin was cracked almost to the point of bleeding. I remembered the Lantiseptic samples I had saved, and gave them to him. His discomfort overweighed his pride, and he agreed to try the ointment. His hands healed within a couple of days. “Wow, it works!” Ernie said. The healing properties of the ointment was undeniable. And I hoped Ernie learned a lesson before he made fun of another “old lady” lotion.
Now sold on this product, I decided to buy it, however, I searched in the local stores with no success. I asked in the nursing home where I worked at the time what type of skin care products they used, and learned it was a different brand.
A few years later, I found myself working in a different facility and was surprised to find it was using the ointment I had been searching for. Each resident using the lotion had their own large jar, individually labeled with their names. I asked for the name of the manufacturer and was told it was a wholesale company. I concluded I was wasting my time; it was probably only sold in institutional quantities for nursing homes and hospitals. I gave up my search.
Last year, I transferred to another nursing home facility. I noticed it was using Lantiseptic as well, but in small packets instead of the large jars. This allowed the staff to apply the treatments more often and conveniently. I noticed from one of the packets that the company had a website. I looked it up on the Internet. “Got it!” I exclaimed. I found all the information I needed: the company, its products, and options for purchasing which included online orders. But I also found out it sold to retail purchasers as well.
I was very excited. After five years I finally found out where to get the “healing ointment.” I didn’t care that the ointment lacked a flowery scent. I didn’t mind that it’s recommended for geriatric use. I was simply happy that I have found what I considered the best skin healer ointment I have ever known.
I have often thought about this story, especially when I am thinking of “healing”. Not actually skin healing, but the healing of the soul, or emotions. Inner healing. I think of this healing when I learn about my residents and their loved ones carrying on unresolved conflicts for years. When I listen to my broken hearted friends telling me about their suffering. When I have seen my son grieving his father’s passing eight years ago. When I have myself experienced hopelessness a few times in my life.
I’ve learned that I can’t be at peace if I feel emotional pain . There’s no feeling of comfort if the soul is “dry” and “cracked” by resentment, hate, selfishness, despair or sadness. Inner healing is a continuous journey, not just a temporarily relief. People may find healing in spirituality, music, art, counseling, forgiveness, faith, devotion, harmony, meaningful time, words of wisdom, humbleness, serving others, sacrifice, gardening, writing, prayer, love. The list may be endless.
It may help asking ourselves: Are our choices driven by appearance -looks and smells good!-, or by what others do? -That many people can’t be wrong!-, or by options that don’t require effort -why bother? The true question is: are we sincerely pursuing spiritual/emotional healing? If so, may God guide us in our arduous search: “He brought me out into a spacious place. He rescued me because he delighted in me” Psalm 18:19