Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Awe of Healing

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.                                      Proverbs 1:7 (King James Version)
Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.                                                         Psalms 33:8 (King James Version)

We are witnesses to some wonderful evidence of God’s healing work.  Most of the time we see this evidence as being “overwhelmed” in the context of fear.  It is not the rush of endorphins but a serenely peaceful state that moves us to quietness and stillness....Holy moments of reverence.
These experiences for me have been in the sacramental experiences of birth and death  when I have seen God’s healing work.   Certainly these healing moments occur in other settings, but what seems unusual is how often we don’t have time to sit still, experience and learn.  
A recently overheard “morning intern report” was how the “night team got slammed”!  It is certainly true that there are volume and acuity stresses in this clinical education environment.   What seemed to be missing was that sense of awe as participants and witnesses. 
There are some wonderful exceptions.  The Eulogy for their son, Anthony John Verrino  (2007) is an example of one of those moments of wisdom and reverence shared by his parents.  And in the recent movie, The Tree of Life, we are faced with the complexities and beauty of a healing story.  We need the poets and sages like Thomas Lynch and Terrence Malick to lead us to those places of the awe and healing.   

Friday, January 6, 2012

Burdens and Benefits

Sistene Chapel - Michelangelo
Kenya 2011

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.                                 Micah 6:8(NIV)
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”                           Jeremiah 29:7 (NIV)

Diseases are not equally distributed and neither are the burdens and benefits of research, health education and healthcare.  It is a reality that we would like to resolve with better distribution or redistribution.   Our cultures have proposed political, economic and ethical responses with limited success, but the reality of inequality is still with us.  

Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson in their book, The Spirit Level (2009) argue that the healthy societies are better for everyone as evidenced by those societies where equality is valued and promoted.  More recently President Obama(12/6/11) made a similar argument for a new and fairer national response to economic inequality.  What drives these responses?   What is the source of these prescriptions?
These prescriptions have as their basis the moral imperatives of love and justice.  In a comprehensive way, Nicholas Woltersdorff in his justice books* addresses the nature of justice and sees “rights, duty and love” as an integrated Christian moral response to care for and about the “other”.  But, how do we practice these principles as healing agents? 
Healing agents must embody a “love” that is more than just compassion for those with the burden of disease.   In a similar manner, the benefits of education, research and  therapy are more than restoration of a valued member of the community; it must embody reconciliation.   It is more than “naked benevolence” or “simple justice” but a response that changes not just the immediate suffering, but strives to prevent it.  This comprehensive view of “justice in love” means that being healing agents is what brings glory to a God we serve because of God’s love for us!

 *Justice: Rights and Wrongs(2008); Justice in Love(2011)
   See blog December 24, 2010 - The “Telos” of Christian Healing Agents