I took a class in divine healing with the Pentecostals, the ones who lay on hands and speak in tongues. Fortunately, the class was in English. I signed up after County Hospital said I was dying, but I didn’t die. Free hospitals are shaky, I told myself, and mistakes get made. It was either that or a miracle, but what’s up with a miracle in 2023, some two thousand years since anyone walked on water or lived in a whale.

The number one thing that I learned in my class was repetition. Scriptures were presented in multiple handouts, Zoom screens, and websites, pushing my brain and my heart to think about healing, talk about healing, and feel about healing. I pondered healing while driving the car, watching a movie, preparing for bed, and rinsing in the shower. Healing, healing, healing, day and night, until eventually there came a moment when I forgot, and all I saw was the LA sky over the freeway and the cost of groceries.

They were now too expensive, and I dwelt on that as I drove to Food 4 Less for a bargain. All that existed was traffic, parking, and discount food, until back home, when I channel-surfed through Daystar and TBN, and, oh right, the beloved Almighty reminded me that, after the miracle/hospital error, I was back to my more-or-less usual self—happy, healed, and filled with prayer. All was good. Until, much darker than grocery prices, a first thought the next morning filled me with despair. Misery beat me to the punch when my eyes were still closed.

I miss my mother, I miss my father, I miss my husband. I’m all alone. I have to do all these chores by myself. The serpent’s speed, when it spots a weakness, seems faster than light. And that’s when the repetition I’d learned in healing class, like cursive writing in the third grade, kicked in. I’d been taught to grab onto healing faster than the snake. “I give you power over all unclean spirits to cast them out,” wrote the teacher on the blackboard.

Then the word suddenly, from Luke, a real doctor, popped up in his book, right where it had always been: “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind. . . . And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues. . . . And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:2, 2:4, and 2:21 KJV).

And, indeed, suddenly, a tiresome errand at T-Mobile turns into fun with a clerk from Guatemala, who slows me down with laughs and understanding about my phone problem. A new SIM card seems like a miracle, and it is, of course, which suddenly brings back my texts.

So I’m off into the day that the healing class wants me to live, smiling back at J.Lo and Ben Affleck in the supermarket tabloids. Then I remember the County Hospital in Sylmar, a distant Los Angeles suburb, where God spoke to me through a televangelist who had caught my eye. I was dying in the ICU with only one desperate thought, “Just end it, Eda. Stop breathing. It won’t hurt anymore if you just stop breathing.” But in that darkness, before any healing classes, the preacher’s reply came to me from an old box TV hanging from the ceiling. “That’s not your thought,” he said. “Don’t have it.”

So I kept breathing. I didn’t experience a rush of praise or faith or healing, but I knew it was the truth, that dying was not my thought.

My head grew quiet that day in the hospital bed, and I realized I had to find a church, not just a TV screen. No, God took me off the grid and led me to a Black, tongue-talking, faith-healing church where gospel music was the hook, and the pastor’s sermon kept me there with handouts, projections, and lists of miracles. One Hundred & One Things God Said and Fifty Scriptures For Your Healing won over grocery prices and morning despair by repeating Jesus’s words over and over, “I am come that [you] might have life, and that [you] might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

“Asho famay, poco sa sa, condeva mo lapla si ova, no may sandama, fe ponda falaka me ora so nee, kelasa do mana, aleh conda, glory hallelujah,” said this Ivy League white woman from Connecticut, who hasn’t had a sick day since County told me I was dying twelve years ago.