I watched the movie, The Green Mile, the other day. I’ve seen it before, it’s one I’ve watched a few times, and I know I’ll watch several times again. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it, but if you are like me, and get squeamish over violence, understand that The Green Mile is the last walk that death row inmates take to the electric chair in the summer of 1935. It’s hard to watch.
I don’t watch those parts.
NOTE: If you haven’t seen it, there may be more information here than you want to know ahead of time, read at your own risk.
There is a character who comes to the prison named John Koffee. John is a big black man, overwhelmingly big, and convicted of killing two little white girls. We soon learn that John Koffee has a special gift. He can put a hand on someone and suck an illness right out of that person.
Yep, right out. As in, he places a hand on them, and their illness is sucked out of their bodies and taken into his own body.
But that isn’t the end of it.
Many of us have been given gifts as healers: as empaths, as listeners, as nurses, doctors, intuitives, massage workers, and in so many other ways. We take away the pain, the hurt, the confusion, illness of others and we take it into ourselves.
And if we aren’t careful… we take on their burdens as our own.
This is where the lesson of John Koffee comes in and it is so perfectly simple as to be profound.
After each “Helping” as he beautifully calls it, he opens up his mouth to the sky and he exhales all of the sickness out of his body. In the movie it is expressed as tiny little flies that flutter up to heaven and disappear forever. And then, he is done.
Oh, except for one more thing.
He rests. He takes time to rest and restore himself.
Do we remember to do that?
Do we remember to lift our breath to the sky and exhale all that we have taken in? Give it up and let it flutter away to the heavens? Or do we hold it in? All the stories we were told in confidence, all the pain we have touched, the hands we have held, the hearts we have stood with, have we remembered to let it go or are we holding the pain of others tightly inside until it has become our pain too.
We can’t help others from that place of pain.
Take a breath, lift your face to the sun and exhale. Let it all flutter away like flies to the heavens and watch it disappear.
And don’t forget that one last thing.