Waymart, Pennsylvania, August 24, 2023
The Lord Jesus Christ and the Most Holy Theotokos worked an amazing miracle of healing through the myrrh-streaming Hawaiian Iveron Icon of the Mother of God during its visit to St. Tikhon’s Monastery in Waymart, Pennsylvania in May.
A man named Daniel tells the story of how he suffered from a degenerative brain disease for two years, which caused him his health, his job, and his ability to spend time with his family. He felt he was on the brink of death.
Then his wife suggested that they travel to St. Tikhon’s Monastery during its annual Memorial Day Pilgrimage to venerate the wonderworking Hawaiian Iveron Icon that was present for the pilgrimage, thanks to its guardian Fr. Nectarios Yangston.
Daniel’s beautiful story was posted by St. Tikhon’s Monastery:
In May of 2023, my wife suggested that we visit St. Tikhon’s Monastery to see the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God of Hawaii. I had been sick for two years with an as yet undiagnosed degenerative brain disease, and she had heard stories of miraculous healings associated with this icon.
Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting what happened that day. For two long years, I prayed and prayed for deliverance from my illness only for my symptoms to worsen. It began in the spring of 2021, when I began to have strange incidents. It started with memory issues, which grew to the point where I wouldn’t recognize the faces of people I’ve known my whole life. My heart rhythm became dysregulated, and my body grew weak. I lost consciousness on the job in March of 2022, and lost the career around which I had planned my future. From there, my mental health spiraled out of control. I echoed the words of Job in his misery and cursed the very day of my birth. Several times I tried to return to my labor union, and each time I was met with the report that I was too much of a liability risk. I took to drinking, which only served to worsen my mental and physical anguish.
Finally, after a long year of dead ends and hospital visits and the deaf ears of my doctor, I had found a cocktail of medications and supplements that seemed to keep me upright. I had convinced the union to let me return to work and in November of 2022 I was working for an electrical contractor again. But by January, I noticed that the medications and the supplements were no longer working. I could go to work, but as time wore on I was barely making it through the day and I had nothing left to give my family when I came home. New symptoms were arising too. My speech was becoming impaired, as was my ability to form conscious thought. I transferred to a much less physical job, assuming it was just the workload of a construction site that was getting to me. But even behind a desk, my symptoms progressed at an increasingly rapid rate. At church, I was unable to stand or even make the sign of the cross most Sundays. On more than one occasion, I was unable to walk to the chalice to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord. On one particularly bad episode, I needed to be carted down to the church undercroft in a wheelchair for coffee hour.
So it was that in the springtime of 2023, I had been through the loss of my career and my health twice over. By this point, I was resigned to being a stay-at-home Dad, though I began to pass out and fall with greater frequency and was ultimately unable to do even that. I was unable to even eat enough because I couldn’t tell when I was hungry and I couldn’t remember when it was time to do so. I was certain I was going to die. Suddenly the loss of my career seemed trivial, because what awaited me was the dread judgment seat of Christ, before which I was certain I had no defense. My only thought was how I would be able to sufficiently repent in time for my death. The anxiety was alleviated on the feast of Christ’s Ascension, when after the Liturgy I was struck with a profound and very near awareness of our Lord’s love for us, including even me. I felt ready to go to my death with peace. My heart then echoed the words of St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia: “Whatever You want, my Lord, whatever Your love desires; place me wherever Your love wishes. I abandon myself to Your love. If You want to place me in hell, then do so, only don’t let me lose Your love.”
We arrived at St. Tikhon’s Monastery around midday. I don’t recall much of the drive down, or the service itself, because my memory was so rapidly deteriorating. What I do remember was the massive crowd of people, all of us bringing our diseases and afflictions to the Lord. I thought this must have been what it was like to be in the crowds surrounding Jesus as He walked from town to town, all of us hoping to just touch the fringe of His garment in the hope that we might receive His blessing. My strength was waning with every step I took towards the icon of our beloved Theotokos. I almost gave up, and likely would have if not for the kindness of a seminarian named Theodore who helped me press on. I venerated the icon of our Lady, in awe at the miracle of the myrrh streaming from the image, then turned to my Archbishop to receive the anointing. As soon as he made the sign of the cross on my head with the holy myrrh, I was changed. My first thought was that I was desperately hungry. This was noteworthy to me, because I had been for months unable to feel hungry or remember to eat. I walked away still leaning on my cane, because I was not expecting to have my body restored, but the cane was more of a hindrance than a help because my legs were walking properly. By the time we arrived back home, my mind was clear and I carried my cane in one hand and my daughter in the other into the house. I felt like I was 18 again. Over the next week, I felt my body get stronger and stronger. I haven’t touched the cane since. I haven’t needed any of my medications since.
I was dying, and I have been given a new life. Christ is risen and is truly in our midst. Glory to Him forever!