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"The Gift" by R. de la Lanza

Updated: May 20

The Gift

by R. de la Lanza

translated by James Goldberg

We believe in the gift of…healing…

The old elder placed his brown and spotted hands, large like those of a prophet who moves mountains and peoples, upon the head of the once vigorous stake president and General Authority Seventy, a gallant man of hard work, a growing estate, radiant beauty, respect, service, and great spirituality—but who had been, for almost three years, a battered, dying animal, pierced by the wound of cancer.

The twin granddaughters of the blesser—who was discreetly famous for having, in his hands and in his voice, the divine gift of healing—sustained him to prevent his fragile legs from collapsing. Their grandfather already had difficulty seeing, but the passing of the years had granted his throat clarity instead of dulling and dirtying his voice.

Many decades ago, when he was a young man, and a recently converted husband and father, he received the Melchizedek priesthood and was assigned by his bishop to give a blessing of health and comfort to a girl who had been in an accident and, after everything possible had been done, was told by doctors she would never walk again. With great reverence, and pronouncing everything in the correct manner, he gave the blessing one afternoon in the hospital. At night, the girl was already walking and the pain and the complications were gone. Three days of medical observation confirmed her recovery.

He knew that the Lord had chosen him to work His miracles. And after that, more miracles followed. Members of his ward did not speak lightly of him. And they didn't abuse his service. Soon members from other places asked him to give them a blessing. He never bragged. He never boasted. And when he perceived that there was something superfluous in the petition, he declined, saying with a neutral tone full of love: "Brother: this is from the Lord, and you have the same priesthood as me."

None of the blessings he delivered were slow to come to pass. Confirmed disease diagnoses were reversed with tests after the ordinance, pains disappeared, even a bishop who was gradually losing his sight fully recovered.

He faced off with death when he blessed a young missionary who had been beaten by a group of gang members and lay in bed just waiting to be disconnected. As soon as the healer's hands touched him, the missionary opened his eyes and in a matter of days he was completely healed.

That was when the healer met the man upon whose head he now rested his haggard hands. The man was still young, then, serving as the missionary’s stake president, and he saw it all. That afternoon the stake president was silent for half an hour, by the end of which half of his thick, well-trimmed hair had turned gray. He implored the healer to wait in the hospital until the apostle, who was about to land, arrived to comfort the missionary's family, but he could not convince him, and he had to tell the apostle everything without the help of the miracle worker.

The wife of that young stake president was always certain that the event had triggered her husband's callings, which followed rapidly thereafter: mission president, area president, and General Authority Seventy. During that time, he made it a point to visit the healer up to five Sundays a year in the meetinghouse. They talked little, in fact, just sat together in priesthood meeting, as brothers. As friends.

Now the healer was very advanced in years. He was old and tired and he could hardly see. That's why he’d stopped shaving. One day he cut his cheek with a razor because he couldn’t see clearly, and so he decided to grow his beard.

In those days, his friend was sustained as an emeritus general authority in general conference, although he had not yet reached the age of seventy. Then the emeritus called the elder and asked him to visit, but in his pleading voice, the healer could discern the man’s longing. The healer declined. The emeritus humbly accepted the answer.

Six months later, the call came again. And upon declining again, the healer lost his peace and sleep. He felt that he could not go to bless the emeritus without compromising his probity before the Lord. He grumbled under his breath as if scolding his friend. And then he himself fell ill. He had nightmares, sweated at night, and was plagued by panic attacks.

One day, his son, the father of the twins, gave him a blessing: "Dear father, I bless you with clarity in your mind and in your heart..." The elder immediately picked up the phone and scheduled a visit with the emeritus general authority.

Supported by his angelic twin granddaughters, he placed his brown and spotted hands, large as those of a prophet who moves mountains and peoples, on the head of his friend, gravely wounded by cancer. They both wept silently in that snug bedroom. Both families waited patiently in the living room.

Then he opened his mouth:

“Dear brother, according to the desire of your heart, I bless you to come out of this earthly trial and at last be free from your torments and agony. The Lord will receive you in his arms, so that you can depart in holy peace.”

The following Sunday, after lunch, he went to bed to take his customary afternoon nap. The nightmares stopped.

This piece was published in 2024 as part of the 13th Annual Mormon Lit Blitz by the Mormon Lit Lab. Sign up for our newsletter for future updates.

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