Brad arrived at the Findhorn Foundation during the second autumn of my stay there. He was a guest, I was preparing for membership, and both of us were cooking lunch that week in the kitchen.
Brad shared with the group early in the week about his poor eyesight. He had had numerous surgeries for brain cancer, some of which had affected his vision. On his “up” days, he could laugh and joke about his “hard head,” the occipital shell that had been fashioned out of the same material as dentures to replace the skull bone that had been eaten away by cancer. Some mornings, though, he looked gray, and the effort of standing seemed to overwhelm him.
On one of his stormy mornings, I asked Brad if I could give him a healing treatment during lunch. I wanted to support him, and in truth I also wanted to assuage my own pain. My beloved aunt Muffy had died of cancer eight years earlier. My mother and I were leaving to be with her when the hospital called to say that Muffy had died alone, lying on a dirty bedpan. I was offering my support not only for Brad, but also for Muffy, and for anyone else who was alone, in pain, or dying.
Brad humored me. We walked up to the healing sanctuary, and he rested on the table while I laid my hands on his head, chest, and back. After a silent hour, he rushed out of the room to catch a bus to another part of the community.
Later that week during our morning sharing before work in the kitchen, Brad wrestled with the idea of “unconditional love.”
“I know my kids love me, but I don’t think anyone else really loves me. Not without expecting something back.”
No one commented. One of the hallmarks of such sharings at Findhorn is “no cross-talk.” The speaker has the circle’s full attention. That person’s truth, in that moment, stands unsullied, unchallenged.
The following week the community hosted its autumn conference, an international gathering focused on spiritual practice. Brad and I exchanged a few “hellos.” He looked relaxed and peaceful.
At the end of the conference, I saw Brad across the auditorium. He was wearing a business suit, and his face looked stony.
“I have something for you, Brad,” I told him as I gave him a hug goodbye. I pressed a stone into his hand, a flat, round stone worn smooth in the tides of the North Sea. “This is to help you remember that there really is such a thing as unconditional love.”
“Thanks,” he murmured as he stuffed the stone in his pocket. He gathered his coat and walked swiftly from the auditorium.

Eighteen months passed. I was supervising clean up after dinner when Brad burst through the kitchen door.
He was beaming as he pressed the beach stone into my hand.
“I’ve been carrying this since I left the community,” he said. The stone had a new sheen, polished by sweat and constant handling. “I want to give it back to you, and boy do I have a story for you.
“I never really had time to tell you about what happened when you gave me that healing treatment. When I was diagnosed with brain cancer, I let myself feel the terror for about 20 minutes. Then, I cut off all feeling. I never allowed myself to even consider dying. I became a guinea peg. I would go to Grand Rounds at the hospital where I worked, and the students would stare at me like a monkey in a cage.
“Well, when I was lying on that table, I experienced my death. I let myself feel the terror, the pain, the sadness. I lifted out of my body, my head bobbing up like a monstrous balloon, and I died right there on the table.”
Brad’s eyes sparkled. “When I left here and went back to the United States, I had another CT scan, and they found a new brain tumor. I decided this time I was going to be grateful. I really heard what Brother David Steindl-Rast said in that conference, that gratitude opens the door for miracles. So I decided that no matter what happened I would be grateful.
“I was in the hospital the night before surgery, and the nurses kept commenting on how peaceful I was. After the surgery, when I woke up, I kept focusing on gratitude. I felt so much better than after any other surgery.
“And then the surgeon came in and told me that he had been able to completely remove the new tumor. It had been growing in just the right place to cut off the blood supply to a couple of tumors at the back of the brain that had been there for years, that couldn’t be removed without killing me. Those inoperable tumors had died, and the surgeon was able to remove the debris.”
Brad’s eyes filled with tears. “For the first time in ten years, I have no cancer in my body.”
He gave me a bear hug.
“You are a miracle,” I told him, tears streaming down my face.
If stones could talk, this one would sing of gratitude, of death squarely faced, of life lived like treasure gleaned from a full moon tide. If you were here, I would press this stone into your hand, and tell you that love is real, and that gratitude opens the door to miracles.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Judith Boice, author, international teacher, naturopathic physician and acupuncturist, has a special passion for working with wellness and women’s health. She has traveled around the U.S. conducting over 900 trainings and public lectures on women’s health, menopause, and osteoporosis. Dr. Boice is the author of several magazine articles and eight books, including Menopause with Science and Soul: A guidebook for navigating the journey. Dr. Boice is listed in Who’s Who in America. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Oberlin College, she has lived and traveled around the world, fostering an understanding and respect for many cultures and traditions. For more information, please visit