Sacred illness and Magic Johnson

Posted by Karen M. Wyatt on November 8, 2011 at 4:45 PM

In previous posts the phenomenon of faith healing has been examined as well as the very difficult situation when healing is sought but doesn’t happen. The point was made that illness can be a sacred occurrence and may come in service of spiritual growth or the greater good of all mankind.

Monday November 7, 2011 marked the 20th anniversary of Magic Johnson’s announcement of his retirement from professional basketball due to his diagnosis of HIV. That moment became a significant turning point in our national perception of HIV/AIDS and the individuals who suffer with this virus.

On that somber day, no one knew that medications would eventually be developed to control the proliferation of the virus and enable the possibility of living a healthy life even while infected with HIV. It appeared on that day 20 years ago that Magic Johnson had received a sentence of certain death.

But the revelation that a prominent sports celebrity had contracted the virus pushed the issue of HIV/AIDS to the forefront of national interest. HIV could no longer be ignored or stigmatized as a disease that only affected those with a homosexual lifestyle; HIV became personal for many people.

Since his announcement to the world, Magic Johnson has remained relatively healthy throughout his battle with HIV. He has formed a foundation that provides education about the virus along with free testing and treatment for those who cannot afford care. Magic himself has said that this work is far more important than any achievement he attained as a basketball player.

The life of Magic Johnson was changed in every possible way by HIV, which became his sacred illness. He rose to the challenge of the disease, grew as a spiritual being and made the world a better place for others as a result.

This is the ultimate requirement of sacred illness: to see the big picture view, the grand context of suffering, and move beyond the seeming limitations presented by disease. To embrace our suffering and use it to create a new and greater good for the planet is our highest calling.

While some of us may eventually be healed of our sacred illness, as Lance Armstrong was healed of testicular cancer, the opportunity still remains within any illness to rise up and extend our new-found awareness and understanding to others. In this way, every illness is sacred, a gift to further our spiritual growth and benefit mankind.

When we are able to hold on to the vision that illness comes with a sacred purpose we will then be able to address the suffering of our planet and face the tasks necessary to heal our existence here. May we be grateful to those who have publicly faced their own challenges and led the way toward finding the sacred in their suffering.

Categories: Illness & Healing, Sports, Current Events

Copyright ©2010 Karen Wyatt, MD

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