A Healing Journey and Guide to Wellbeing
by Suzanna Marcus
(Open Doorways Press, 2007).
There are some homes, says Israeli writer Meir Shalev, that, when you enter them, they make you want to say, “Hello house.” Suzanna Marcus lives in such a home. Her veranda is cut into a hill-top in Zichron Ya’akov and from it you can almost tumble into the adjacent Arab village of Fureidis below, and roll over the coastal plain into the sea glittering in the distance. The dwelling stands on natural slate floors and soars up to grainy wood-beamed ceilings, and the whole structure puts out its arms and hugs you as you step through the door, and holds you close, and heals you if you are feeling bad. And then the owner of the house feeds you geranium tea, and flaxseed crackers and organic Brazil nuts in a ceramic bowl, you start to feel suffused with an overpowering feeling of wellbeing.
Suzanna Marcus is a spiritual healer, whose own challenges have brought her to believe that God stretches those He created in His image in many ways, to enable them to grow. She has certainly had her fair share of stretching.
Born beautiful, intelligent and happy, Marcus grew up in a well-to-do Jewish suburb of London, but, after experiencing anti-Semitism when she was fourteen, determined that she would one day make her home in the Holy Land. At the age of sixteen she came to Israel on a holiday and boarded a bus to Eilat, clad only in a brightly colored skimpy skirt wrapped over a bathing suit. Not surprisingly, she soon caught the eye of a tall, tanned, handsome soldier on leave from his unit. By the time she got off the bus near Ein Gedi he had offered to protect her and hitch-hike at her side for the day. Day followed day, and by the end of the summer love was blooming in the desert. Four years later Marcus married her hero, and they moved into a home her father provided. A baby was born, and another, and another … the very stuff that dreams are made of.
Almost. But not quite. The handsome hero turned out to be violent and an abusive husband to the woman who was supporting him emotionally and financially. And yet, with a family to think of, she stuck by her man. “My fear of him was enough to make me well behaved and to continually appease him,” explains Marcus. “Walking on eggshells, I lost all sense of myself. I felt so crushed that my mind often went blank, unable to comprehend what had happened.” Too ashamed to tell her family what was happening, Marcus endured the abuse for years. However, through self-awareness groups Marcus was beginning to regain her sense of self and she eventually found the courage to pick up her children and leave her husband for good.
Her problems didn’t end with her divorce. There was more stretching in store: betrayal, desertion, a tragic and untimely death in the family, an inheritance that disappeared, and then, to top it all: metastasized breast cancer. Marcus was not surprised. “I walked around with all this pain and anger in my heart for so many years,” she explains, “that my immune system could not cope with the stress. So it produced a tumor.”
Many experts dismiss the notion that emotional trauma is linked to the cancer. Dr. Tsvi Symon, deputy head of the Oncology Department at Sheba Medical Center, believes that it is a positive thing if the disease can be used as a stepping-stone to improve emotional and spiritual wellbeing, and to start living a healthier life. “But there is no scientific evidence linking cancer with emotions,” he says, “and sometimes it can be cruel to tell a patient that his stress is ‘responsible’ for his cancer.”
Marcus explains that in her case doctors gave her six months to live, and prescribed radical treatment: a mastectomy, chemo, radiation and a bone marrow transplant. She settled for a lumpectomy and holistic healing: working with the mind, body and spiritual tools she had used previously in her work as a healer. Unable to find a book which would encourage and inspire her with the story of someone in a similar position, she determined to heal herself and then write the book for others.
Her journey back to health is described in her book, subtitled “A Healing Journey and Guide to Wellbeing.” To begin with, she closed the chapter on what she calls her “Old Song” and began to sing the new. And the first note of the song was to find a way to infuse her life with zest and joy. She accepted the offer of a “beautiful young man” with whom she had once been close, to live with her in her house on the hill, and care for her in this difficult time. Despite being warned by doctors that she would be dead within a year without chemo, she eschewed conventional medicine, and set about healing herself. Her methods of meditation, visualization and relaxation are chronicled in her book, as well as detailed instructions on how to “release the old song” and pain within, and still the mind from the “chatter, chatter, chatter” of everyday life. Marcus combined these practices with regular long walks and a nutritional regime that included elixir of grasses, raw foods like nuts and avocadoes, and wheatgrass which she grew herself.
Bombarded by oxygen, detoxifying thoughts and herbal essences, Marcus believes her cancer somehow admitted defeat. Six months into the healing process, at the point where conventional thought had predicted her death, Marcus’ medical tests showed up normal. It was then that she traveled to The States to study in more detail the healing methods she had already tested on herself. Today Marcus runs workshops in personal growth and development, to provide tools to overcome challenges in the fields of health, relationships or work situations. “Everyone has a trauma,” she maintains, “and everyone thinks that their’s is the worst. But it’s how you deal with trauma that is crucial to wellbeing. Think of a gurgling group of infants, whose mother disappears for an instant to do some small chore,” she explains. “Most of the kids are oblivious of her absence, but one of the little boys might cry and scream, and feel abandoned and bereft. He might grow up to think no woman can be trusted; everyone will leave.” But, claims Marcus, when the baby grows up, he can learn to understand that his anger is irrational, and give it up.
Convinced? Skeptical? Who knows.
As for wellbeing …. Let me share with you what happened at the end of my visit to the heavenly home. Curious as to the sensation supposedly provoked by the “laying on of hands,” I asked Marcus to do a quick treatment on me. She sat me in a comfortable wooden (of course!) chair, facing a picture of geometric shapes in yellows and greys. Then she held her hands over my head, and placed them briefly on my shoulders. I think I felt an unexpected energy pulsing through the room and zooming through the picture on the wall, sending the colors into three dimensions that zinged back and forth. Was it something in the flaxweed cookies or the geranium tea? Or does staring long and hard always produce these distortions? Or was it just that I COVETED that beautiful house with a passion, and the garden, and the view, and the lemons dripping off the tree … and that I didn’t want to go home, ever again?
Or was it her healing hands? You might just want to find out for yourselves.