Curing Hands

22 Sep

Lot peered with horror at the large goiter on the neck of his father as he spoke to him.

“I have learned of a new physician who recently arrived in Ur. He is said to treat the seriously ill without medicines, through his own immaterial power.”

“How can that be?” asked the bent-over Haran. Pain distorted his pale face. It was visible in the little man’s brown eyes as well.

“This man called Nuret, according to reports, heals by the laying of his hands upon sick organs and limbs. Some force born in him has beneficial effect on the patient.”

“Is such a thing possible?” asked the desperate old man. “What can be so special about the hands of the individual? Does he possess godly gifts of some kind?”

The two stared at each other in silence for a time. Haran lay sprawled on a large cushion. At last, his son spoke to him.

“Will you see the person if I go and convince him to visit you, father?”

The latter thought the idea over.

“Very well, my son,” he decided. “I will meet the man.”

“Good,” smiled Lot. “I will arrange the matter with the healer.”

Haran and his children occupied one section of the great house of his own aged father, Terah.

With him were his unmarried daughter, Mileah, and his two sons, Lot and Iscah.

The other parts of the structure fell to the brothers of Haran, Nahor and Abram.

Lot did not tell his grandfather or two uncles of his plan to bring a new physician to his father. Learning where the hand therapist lived in the central area of Ur, he headed there one afternoon. Old buildings, from the early years of the city, showed that prosperity and glory were long fled from Ur. A lazy ennui characterized the empty streets where magnificence once reigned.

The city had fallen from its heights of previous generations.

Lot had no trouble locating the rooming house where the healer resided.

A single knock on the heavy door of the flat resulted in its immediate opening, as if the visitor was anticipated.

A tall, athletic figure with curly black locks and green eyes gazed outward. It was at once evident that his hands were gigantic ones.

“Yes? Can I help you?” asked his bass voice in a distant dialect.

“My name is Lot, son of Haran the merchant. I have come to ask you to examine and treat my father. He suffers a terrible goiter condition. Will you take him as a patient? I promise to reward you for the time and effort involved.”

Nuret studied the face and dark brown eyes of Lot as if hunting for something indefinable there. “No need to stand in the corridor,” he grumbled. “Come in so we can talk.”

Once the pair were seated on low stools, the larger man began to tell his life story.

“The truth is that I cannot give the name of the place where I was born. My family belonged to a roaming tribe of desert wanderers. Their nomadic ways took deep root in me. I broke away and went off on my own at an early age. An instinct to journey on remains strong in me. My travels have taken me up and down the river of our land, and I have perfected my healing craft from all I saw and learned along the way.

“Today, I am here in Ur. But my future lies anywhere and everywhere. It is beyond me to prophecy where the path of life may take me tomorrow.”

Lot decided to pose a direct question.

“You apply your hands in order to heal?”

“I concentrate all the living breath within me, my lil force, into my two hands. From there, it can move into the body of another. How this operates on my patients, I am unable to explain. But many improvements and cures come about when I lay my two hands on a person with illness.”

“There is always some benefit?” inquired Lot with excitement.

“I would say that there is,” answered the other with confidence.

“Let us, then, arrange for you to meet with my father. I want you to see his goiter and its monstrous size.”

The two agreed that Nuret was to visit the great house on the morrow.

Lot had concern about the wisdom of what he was attempting.

What consequences would result from allowing this healer to treat his father? He asked himself.

It seemed best to him not to reveal what he was doing to his uncles, Abram and Nahor. This was to be a sort of experiment carried out in secret. Only if success was the result were the brothers of Haran to be told about Nuret, the a-zu.

The afternoon that the healer came to the large house, the two siblings of the patient were busy supervising work at the small workshop where statues of the gods were produced.

“My father is waiting in his bed chamber,” Lot informed the visitor, leading him into the interior of the building. “Do you wish me to leave the room so that the two of you have complete privacy?”

“That will not be necessary,” said Nuret in a strong voice.

Haran rose from a stool as the two entered the chamber. Only an opening at the top of the outside wall provided some dim light.

“Here is the physician I told you of, father,” announced the son.

Nuret approached the standing figure. “May I examine your neck, sir?” he asked, taking a few seconds to look at the ugly stroma protrusion.

“Let me explain what I intend to do,” said the a-zu to the sufferer. “My hands are only a means, a medium through which I direct my invisible lil spirit. I have collected much force through prayer and meditation. The power in me has material effects on the body and its illnesses. My hope is to make your goiter shrink and disappear. It may take me more than a single visit to achieve that end. We shall see how it goes.

“May I take hold of your throat, sir?”

Haran nodded yes, so that hand treatment began immediately.

Standing a short distance behind the healer, Lot witnessed the change occurring in his father.

The face of Haran took on a livelier color.

Something appeared to be energizing and invigorating him as his eyes brightened with a yellow glow.

After a considerable time, Nuret spoke again.

“I shall now remove my hands from your neck. My advice is that you lie down and rest. It will be best if you can now fall asleep.”

Once the patient was in bed, the a-zu turned to Lot.

“I will leave at once,” he said. “There are others I must see to.”

Two more visits by the a-zu resulted in visible improvement for Haran’s ailment. The stroma receded. The mood of the patient rose. Nuret, growing familiar with Lot, opened up to him in discussion after the healing session.

“I am truly astounded at the improvement in my father,” said the younger man. “But how it happened is a mystery to me. The power in your hands is incomprehensible. I do not understand it at all.”

The a-zu smiled serenely at him.

“As you know, I have traveled in many lands. My experience has been that a multitude of peoples worship and pray to a large number of different gods. Here in Sumeria, each city and region has its own divine patron and protector. Look at my profession of medicine. Every physician is termed an a-zu, a “water knower”, referring to the watery realms of the great deity called Enki. But there are many, many divine beings. Various persons beseech different ones at different times, asking for a variety of gifts.

“In my field of healing, the curative factor is divine lil. This force can be found in many different locations. Each Sumerian family has its own household gods to whom loyalty and obedience is owed. We a-zus can beg for intervention from differing higher spirits, but the one common element involved is the lil, which is universal.”

“Universal?” said Lot as if a revelation had just come to him.

“How else can I define the unseen power in my hands?” returned Nuret.

The healer excused himself and left Lot to his thoughts.

Terah saw that important change was going on his invalid son. A talk with Haran seemed the best way to clarify his thoughts about the condition of the one brought down by illness.

He visited the chamber where the recuperating patient lay resting.

“Heran, my son, how do you feel today?”

“Much better, I believe my goiter is shrinking and will soon be gone.”

Terah came closer, looking into the face of Haran.

“I know about the a-zu who comes to see you.”

Haran gave a look of surprise. “Lot is the one who brought him here. This man is the reason for my improvement, father.”

“What does he do for you?” asked Terah with curiosity.

“He carries out a laying of hands. There is a secret power in them that I am unable to explain. All these benefits to my health come from him.”

The father frowned. “I have received rumors about this Nuret. People call him a faker and charlatan. They want to expel him from Ur.”

“There is no truth to such slander, father.”

“At any rate, you shall not see the man again. I forbid him to enter our house. This risk of harm to you is great and has to be avoided.”

“But I am getting better!”

“That is in your imagination, Haran. Nothing more than a fantasy. But I came today to tell you something else. Abram will soon be leaving on a journey to our relatives to the northwest of Sumeria. His caravan will carry statues to be sold there.

“It will be a major undertaking, so I am ordering Lot to accompany his uncle. He can provide valuable assistance in the trade and commerce.”

Haran said nothing as he stared in wonder at Terah.

Was his father condemning him to renewed disease and pain?

Lot left at night to tell Nuret that his services could no longer be utilized. A blanket of unnumbered stars hung over Ur.

The a-zu, on a stool across from his visitor, was severely shocked.

“Your grandfather must be a stubborn man, I think.”

“Yes, he is unmovable once he decides something.”

Nuret looked away, then continued.

“I am aware of the lies circulating about me. They originated with people who believe my view of the divine realm of spirits to be unsound. They accuse me of reducing and condensing the many gods into one.”

“One?”

“The source that creates all the lil cannot be a multitude. It must be a single being that alone moves all that exists.”

“A single divinity?” said Lot in astonishment.

“Why not? There is no other view so clear and reasonable. All lil is identical, and comes from only one place.”

Lot rose, excused himself, and departed.

He slept little that night, thinking about what the a-zu had told him.

Long and difficult was the route northward and westward toward the city named Harran.

The uncle of Lot sensed the sorrow and regret in his young nephew. Not till they were far from Ur did Abram make inquiries about what was bothering him. This occurred once the mules and oxen of their caravan were stabled and fed in a town in northern Sumeria.

“What troubles your mind so much?” asked the older man. “Is it the illness of your father? He appeared to be getting better.”

Gazing into the chestnut eyes of his uncle, Lot revealed all that he had been keeping to himself.

Abram learned of the secret visits by the a-zu and their effects on the health of Haran. But he also learned of Terah’s expulsion of the hand healer despite his success.

“What will happen to my father’s goiter now?” asked Lot.

“I cannot foresee,” sadly said the uncle. “If only I had known these things before we left Ur!”

Lot suddenly remembered how Nuret had explained his therapy.

“The a-zu gave me a strange explanation of the curative lil in his hands. He claims that it proceeds from one, single god that is stronger than any that people pray to in different places.”

“Tell me more,” commanded Abram. “I am profoundly interested in what the a-zu professes to believe.”

The pair came to have many discussions on the topic as they traveled on.

When Abram and Lot returned to Ur in a year, they found that Haran had experienced complete cure due to the after effects of the hand treatment.

Nuret was nowhere in the city, having left for some unknown destination.

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