Sunday, December 15, 2013

Reconciliation and Healing

“Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”  Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
Matthew 22: 36-40 (The Message)

God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you.  
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (The Message)

Reconciliation is big word and we have heard a lot about this word with the celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela.  We also heard about the healing mission of the church when Pope Francis was recognized as Time’s Person of the Year.

This was a wonderful opportunity to re-examine these words and consider the implications for our lives.  My first thought is that both men approach their tasks with different strategies.  With further reflection, we see the common concern for the “poor”, those who were excluded politically and those excluded economically.  Both men are concerned with the systems that separate us from each other!  Both have a deep sense of love for their neighbor.  We have been surprised as to who “they see”!  For me, the vision of their neighbor is the common element of the ministries of both these men.  

We need to pray for help to understand that our obligations are more than just obeying the rules. Help us to be those individuals and communities that witness the larger dimensions of healing by teaching us the power of forgiveness.   Expand our ideas of justice and peace and forgive us for being part of the walls that prevent us from becoming your healing agents. 


Lischer, R. (2005). The end of words: The language of reconciliation in a culture of violence. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. 
Hage, M. L. (2012). Fear, Freedom and Reconciliation. Retrieved from
Hage, M. L. (2012). Rx Ubuntu. Retrieved from

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Big Healing

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.     Psalm 63:1 (NIV)
[ A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah. ]

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
    the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
    it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.  Isaiah 35: 1-2 (NIV)

I recently (11/5/2013) had the opportunity to hear T.R. Reid, author of The Healing of America, describe his world-wide experience with health care.  He was able to combine data, history and personal experience in support of a moral argument for a more just health care system. 

With a different focus, Richard Rodriquez in his book, Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography, reflects on the events and etiologies of 9/11.   He is able to weave his stories of personal formation with an understanding of the traditions that have given birth to religious conflict. For him, relationships are the keys to healing and ultimately, like the psalmist, it is his relationship to God!

Both of these authors address the big idea of Healing. They help us reflect on where and how healing happens and why it doesn’t.  Healing is one of those big ideas that needs to be woven into the stories of all our lives.   Thanks to both of these men for there works.



Reid, T. R. (2010). The Healing of America (Reprint ed.). Penguin Books.
Rodriguez, Richard. Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.
Hage, M. L. (2013). Healing Spaces. Retrieved from
Hage, Marvin (2010-12-01). Healing Agents: Christian Perspectives. Kindle Edition. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Difficult Conversations

In Vitro Fertilization Image

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

In her recent book, No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Parenthood and Faith in a Age of Advanced Reproduction, Ellen Painter Dollar describes the difficult conversations with modern health care as well as with her faith communities.   She describes the dilemmas in painful detail but is able to conclude:

"For Christians, one story—about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ—prevails over all the hurts and joys that influence how we frame our life story on any given day. Being a Christian is about continually and consciously choosing to believe that hope, healing, and life conquer despair, brokenness, and death no matter what each day brings. Christian faith is ultimately an invitation to believe the better story, about a God who fixes what is broken, heals what is hurt, and brings what is dead to life. That is the story I cling to, and to which I turn when I’m trying to make sense of my childbearing decisions and the promise and peril of reproductive technologies."

The challenge for all of us is to listen and respond.  One response that was missing in this narrative is a healing prayer with this family by and with her health care providers.  They did not acknowledge the mystery of the lives that were shared with them.   We need be able to appreciate the invitation that this book gives to all of us in a technologic medical world.



Dollar, Ellen Painter (2012-01-17). No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Parenthood, and Faith in an Age of Advanced Reproduction (Kindle Locations 2900-2905). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition. 

Hage, M. L. (2013). Praying for Stem Cells. Retrieved from

Hage, M. L. (2010). Healing Agents: Christian Perspectives Second Edition (2 ed.). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Healing Spaces

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Psalm 23: 1-3
King James Version (KJV)

“In a church we learn to do ministry together.  We teach each other what Grace looks like and how it feels to be treated like a child of God.”
Rev. Dr. Douglas Brouwer, “One hand washes the other” September 3, 2006
Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana

Dr. Esther Sternberg in a conversation with Krista Tippett (On Being) describes the importance of the healing environment.   She used as as her first example the wisdom of the Psalmist.

We all continue to look for those spaces in our lives that bring wholeness.  What we frequently miss is the origin of these spaces in God’s creation.  We attempt to duplicate these holy spaces in our churches, cathedrals, temples and hospitals.   We know that these spaces are important.   

For me, a holy space has been “educational” in the encounters with both patients and students.  It is a holy space that many times is corrupted by power, competition and credentials.  What is awesome is seeing the results even years later in their healing lives.  It is life-giving.



Sternberg, E. M. (2010). Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being (1 ed.). Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Verhulst J.  Kramer D.  Swann AC.  Hale-Richlen B.  Beahrs J. The medical alliance: from placebo response to alliance effect. [Review] Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease.  201(7):546-52, 2013 Jul.

Larkin GL.  Mello MJ. Commentary: doctors without boundaries: the ethics of teacher-student relationships in academic medicine.  Academic Medicine.  85(5):752-5, 2010 May.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

God's Grace Revisited

Surgery Board at Tenwek Hospital, Kenya

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  
Ephesians 2:19-20 (NIV)

“From an African perspective, to NOT make a spiritual connection with patients is 
essentially medical malpractice.”
    Suzanne R. Snyder, MD Medical Missionary to the Masai

It is often difficult to relate to patients but it is an essential part of caring for patients no matter where you practice.  Language, cultures and the limited knowledge of the patient’s history makes establishing a relationship a challenge.

What I have found is that the organization that you represent is an important ingredient in how that relationship is understood.   When you are identified with a medical organization with a clear statement of its mission, you have a basis for the beginning of a relationship that has the opportunity to transcend the barriers of culture and language. 

So beside the diplomas and credentials, it is important for patients to know that we are more than just competent!   We must  build a relationship in the belief that the outcome will be healing.  For Christians this is done for the glory of God and his Kingdom.  It is  in those relationships, a living mystery,  that we have the privilege to experience God’s Grace. 



Jolles EP.  Clark AM.  Braam B.  Getting the message across: opportunities and obstacles in effective communication in hypertension care. [Review] Journal of Hypertension.  30(8):1500-10, 2012 Aug.

Abedini NC.  Gruppen LD.  Kolars JC.  Kumagai AK. Understanding the effects of short-term international service-learning trips on medical students. Academic Medicine.  87(6):820-8, 2012 Jun.

Hage, M. L. (2012). God’s Grace. Retrieved from

Monday, September 16, 2013


Mother and Infant statue at St. Vincent Women’s Hospital, Indianapolis, Indiana

For I too was a son to my father,
    still tender, and cherished by my mother.
Proverbs 4:3 (NIV)

Seven years ago, 2006, I saw this statue in the waiting area at St. Vincent Women’s Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana.  It spoke to me of the tender care provided by mothers to their infants.   This is an icon of tenderness!

More recently, I have heard the strong but tender voice of Jean Vanier who articulates a contemporary theology of medicine.  He is the founder of the L’Arche communities where tenderness is at the center of the care.  That tenderness leads to a wonderful spirit of gratitude and joy. You can find that same gratitude and joy from others like the minister, Nadia Bolz-Weber, and the scientist, Natalie Batalha.

What is common in these images, voices and messages is what occurs in the lives of healing agents.  The good news is there are new virtual spaces like “On Being” with Krista Tippett that allow us to hear the words and see the actions of tenderness.



Levin J.  "And let us make us a name": reflections on the future of the religion and health field.   Journal of Religion & Health.  48(2):125-45, 2009 Jun.
Hage, M. L. (2013). The Nature of Healing. Retrieved from
Hage, M. L. (2013). Residential Learning. Retrieved from
Hage, M. L. (2013). A Theology of Medicine. Retrieved from

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Rounds are Over!

Ready for Rounds

On September 1, 2013, I attended my last clinical morning rounds.  This activity and habit has been a part of my life for almost 50 years.  It has been a method of learning, teaching and caring for patients.  There are certainly other important methods, but this has been a key to sharing information.

This activity has changed remarkably.  In the past memorization was key.  We needed to remember the history, physical and laboratory findings of each patient that we saw.  We then had to be ready to answer questions regarding the pathology and management of the disease.  Today, the patient and disease information exist in the “peripheral brains” (clinical computers and databases) of the clinical team.  What hasn’t changed is getting the clinical history from the patient, family and other team members.  We still need to sit, listen and touch patients.

It is a strange feeling to close these chapters of clinical learning and teaching.  The rounds that would sometime seem endless have stopped.  The reality is that others need to be the “rounders” that learn, teach and care.



Gonzalo JD.  Masters PA.  Simons RJ.  Chuang CH.  Attending rounds and bedside case presentations: medical student and medicine resident experiences and attitudes.  Teaching & Learning in Medicine.  21(2):105-10, 2009 Apr-Jun.

Tariq M.  Motiwala A.  Ali SU.  Riaz M.  Awan S.  Akhter J.  The learners' perspective on internal medicine ward rounds: a cross-sectional study.
BMC Medical Education.  10:53, 2010.

Hage, M. L. (2012). Vocation & Retirement. Retrieved from

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Photo in the Constantine Basilica, Trier, Germany, 2013
“The Church is only the Church when it exists for others”, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

André Heintz (left) at Le Mémorial de Caen, 2013

I just returned from a wonderful return trip to Europe.  One theme that recurred was the role of the resistance/resilience prior to and during World War II.  We saw and heard again the courage and the resilience of individuals.

There have and are continued “wars” waged on suffering in the world.  Like other conflicts there is a real concern about whether or not these are “just wars” with their associated costs.  Do we see these responses as individual or community efforts?  Do we need to rethink our priorities and the model of our activities?

“Resistance/Resilience” maybe that new model of our healing vocations. Resistance/Resilience can be a clearer way of understanding our healing activities than our usual “war” rhetoric.  We do possess some tools to “resist” the suffering around us, but healing frequently occurs in quiet and "covert" ways from that inner strength of both resistance and resilience. This is where the healing church is at its best as a source of resistance and as a place to learn resilience! It is where people live out the gift of salvation in a suffering world. 



Fournier, G., & Heintz, A. (2006). If I Must Die.: From “Postmaster” to “Aquatint” (Des Souvenirs Et Des Hommes): From “Postmaster” to “Aquatint” (illustrated edition ed.). OREP.

Shirey MR.  How resilient are your team members?  Journal of Nursing Administration.  42(12):551-3, 2012 Dec.

Hu YY.  Arriaga AF.  Roth EM.  Peyre SE.  Corso KA.  Swanson RS.  Osteen RT.  Schmitt P.  Bader AM.  Zinner MJ. Greenberg CC. Protecting patients from an unsafe system: the etiology and recovery of intraoperative deviations in care. Annals of Surgery.  256(2):203-10, 2012 Aug.

Hage, M. L. (2012). “Standing Firm” and Pilgrimages. Retrieved from

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Theology of Medicine

There was a celebration of the life and work of Dr. Albert Schweitzer this last week (July 6 & 7, 2013) in Gabon, West Africa.  His name and work are still recognized around the world and medical students continue to be inspired by experiences at sites named for him. 

His religious philosophy was summarized by the phrase, “Reverence for Life.”  His religious history is that of a Lutheran but his life was his theological argument!  So the question today is where do we see a theological and a life argument in the practice of medicine?

Mission medicine continues to respond in providing service to the poor.   Here is an example from Duke University...Duke Global Health.   But what about the larger questions and a “life argument”?  Here is another response from that same institution:

“The Christian tradition also is very clear that physicians are not in medicine alone but, like all Christians, are part of a larger body, the church, which has as its mission the reconciliation of the world to God. And so the question is how to help congregations to own that and to support physicians and to sustain medicine as a practice.”   Dr. Warren Kinghorn, Duke University

What is amazing is that we have not put a name on this body of knowledge that makes the argument about the relationship between theology and medicine. Maybe it is still captured in the phrase, “Reverence for Life”.



Friday, June 28, 2013


“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”    
Isaiah 58:9b-11 (NIV)

The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road. The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes. God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree.   
Psalm 19:7-9  (The Message)

On June 20th (What Makes Us Happy?) and 21st, 2013 (Why Those Who Feel They Have Less Give More), Paul Solman on the PBS Newshour addressed the growing economic inequality in our society and the associated effects.  He reviews the findings of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkley.   As you might guess, the questions and the answers are controversial!  

“The U.S. is kind of a notable case in the sense that in the last 35 years, as GDP has grown, we actually haven't seen our average happiness level go up.”  Christine Carter on What Makes Us Happy?

“There are a lot of new data that show if you're generous, and charitable and altruistic, you'll live longer; you'll feel more fulfilled;”  Dacher Keltner on Why Those Who Feel They Have Less Give More.

 I have come to come to two conclusions:
(1)  Even without experimental evidence, the ancient psalmist and the prophet Isaiah would agree that one of those “signposts” leading to a  joyful life is the virtue of charity.

(2) The scientific approach to hard questions of “purpose and place” may be good news to those who search for joy.   What a wonderful surprise when science is usually seen as antithetical to the search for meaning.



Photo by Elizabeth Hage

Hage, M. L. (2012). Burdens and Benefits. 

Hage, M. L. (2013). The Poor. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Healing Tools

Jesus now called the Twelve and gave them authority and power to deal with all the demons and cure diseases. He commissioned them to preach the news of God’s kingdom and heal the sick. He said, “Don’t load yourselves up with equipment. Keep it simple; you are the equipment.                           Luke 9:1-3 (The Message)

In her recent book, Dirt Work, Christine Byl describes the sacred (my word) work of a traildog where tools and vocation meet.  She works in complicated and mysterious places.  She and her husband worked at Glacier National Park and now in Alaska.  She reports on a life of physical labor.  It is an earthy tale!

For me, the connection with her story was the use of tools.   Specifically, tools, both simple and complex have been at the heart of my profession.  When I first received that black bag and within it the first stethoscope, I entered a world where healing tools would be a part of my life.   They required dedication to learn the secrets they would reveal.

The tool most taken for granted were my hands.   The best expression of the power of hands was the comment I heard about a retired surgeon who was said to have “kind hands”.  That ability to transmit care is the essence of a healing tool.  For his colleagues, the skill and efficiency of his hands were impressive even though the patient only felt his touch before and after the surgery.  

The many tools we use should not be the focus of our work.   What is sacred and mysterious is how the tools bring healing by those who learn to use them.



Byl, C. (2013). Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods. Beacon Press. 
Gawande, A. (2011). Personal best. The New Yorker

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Global Health

For God so loved the world....John 3:16a (KJV)

President Obama in his speech on national security (5/23/2013) argues for policies that reaffirm our pursuit of justice and a just war in the face of terrorism.  Brain McLaren in his recent book, argues for a stronger but less hostile Christian response to other world religions.  Paul Farmer addresses the global health issues in his book, To Repair the World.   The voices are mixed but the message is clear that healing is the central idea and response to suffering and violence.

The meaning of healing has many facets but begins after seeing and defining the distress and disease.  We need to see the underlying injustice and inequity and respond in clear ways of peace and courage.  Education is one such response that changes and is empowering, but education alone does not necessarily bring purpose to lives.  Many times the purpose is found in a deep longing to make a difference in the lives of others.

For Christians, we look to a model that identifies another reality and purpose,  That reality brings aid, education and understanding to the world out of the Love that has been given to us as a gift.  Love becomes a “verb” that results in the courageous acts that overcome the violence and evil in the world.  Love is at the center of our faith.  Sometimes we just say “God’s Grace”!



McLaren, B. D. (2012). Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World. Jericho Books.

Farmer, P. (2013). To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation. University of California Press. 

Previous Related Posts:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Healing Music

We recognize the power of music to heal even when we don’t completely understand the mechanism.   One of my first exposures to the healing found in music was the work of Stevie Ray Vaughn and his "Caught in the Crossfire”. 

Recently, I heard a new CD by Jim Morgan, Hymnagination.   It is compilation of hymns that bring together some older gospel hymns with common themes.  When you listen to these piano solos, you will hear the familiar tunes with a new ear.  Previously, I mentioned a magnificent collection by Jonathan Elias, The Prayer Cycle. (Hope)  What is common to all is a theme built around common beliefs translated into music in a new and creative way.

In the broadcast “On Being”(5/2/2013), we learn about the neuroscience of creativity.  A short summary is that we need to “slow down” to be able to put the “pieces together” in new ways.  These insights help us put in context the new experiences and directions of our lives.

What I have learned is that the deepest language of healing is found within music that captures those beliefs and experiences and leads to new directions in our lives.  Healing music has a resonance with our deep knowledge and pain.   This resonance is what breaks and “names the silences”.  



Hage, M. L., Tetel-Hanks, J., Bushyhead, A. (1994). Caught in the Crossfire. Duke University Medical Center

Previous Post: Hope  June 18, 2012

McGregor BA, Antoni MH. Psychological intervention and health outcomes among women treated for breast cancer: a review of stress pathways and biological mediators.  Brain, Behavior, & Immunity.  23(2):159-66, 2009 Feb.

Hauerwas, Stanley  Naming the Silences, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1990

Sunday, April 21, 2013



And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors  Matthew 6:12

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.   Luke 23:24

There are amazing stories of forgiveness in the face of horrific violence.  That is what we hear from those who live out these stories in places like Rwanda and Burundi.  I had the opportunity to meet Freddy Tuyizere who works for Youth for Christ International.   His work with his staff builds homes and communities for those who are the survivors of genocide - (Check out this site).

We are taught to pray the “Lord’s Prayer” that requires that we “forgive our debtors” as a daily prescription!  This prescription is one that leads to healing.   The prescription is counter-cultural in our violent world where we look for compensation and retribution.  We want to believe that justice will heal the wounds.  

We believe it is significant that from the Cross is another time we hear the mandate to forgive.  Help us to see our crosses through the lens of forgiveness and understand that the Cross is the source for all our healing.  

Thanks be to God for the living witness of Freddy Tuyizere.


Related Posts
Restoration - March 14, 2013
Suffering - February 11, 2013
Healing Presence - January 3, 2013
Healing and Violence  - December 16, 2012
God's Grace - October 30, 2012

Sunday, April 7, 2013


 “Patient Room Reminder”
Johnson City Medical Center, Johnson City, Tennessee

I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah   
Psalm 3:4 King James Version

Richard Lischer’s new book, Stations of the Heart: Parting with a Son, describes the lived suffering and healing in a family and community of faith.  He invites all of us to be part of the conversation.  It is a conversation about crosses and the heart of the Christian faith.

The narrative by Richard Lischer is important because as Christians we are all part of the mystery of the story he tells of courage, hope and faith.  It is a unique story of a father’s love and loss.   It is a long story without short-cuts, easy answers or generalizations.  It is difficult lesson!

“Selah” is one of those ancient prescriptions that provides some direction.  It can be translated as “Pause, Reflect, Heal”.   It is a reminder to all who enter the suffering stories of our lives.  It is a beautiful word!

Thanks be to God for this awe-inspiring story of loss and the challenge of what it means to be a healing agent.  



Lischer, Richard (2013-04-02). Stations of the Heart: Parting with a Son Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Poor

Poverty Map

Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God."
Luke 6:20 (NIV)

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, 
so that you through his poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV)

The naming of Pope Francis (3/13/13), a Jesuit from the global south, was a remarkable act with and because of his focus on the poor.  Could it be that the poor will be a “blessing” and a healing agent?   Could it be that the mission of the church to the poor will be a healing moment of a God who is at work in the world?  Will Pope Francis be a “healing agent”?

There is no question that the poor have generated concern and debate within and outside the church.  What seems missing in the conversation is whether or not we are “with the poor”.  Being present with them is the Christ-like response and His mandate.

For healthcare and specifically global healthcare, let us affirm that we are with them where God is at work.   Let us join with the church universal in being “where God lives”!  Let us pray for wisdom in how we respond in both our hearts and our acts as partners in the Kingdom of God.  Help us to see our poverty and become rich with the blessings of the poor.   



Debates about the Poor:
TED Talks - Hans Rosling & Esther Duflo
When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself by Steve Corbett, Brian Fikkert

Selected Posts: 
4/23/12 - Rx - Ubuntu
1/23/11 - Peace from Above

Thursday, March 14, 2013


“New Creations” Holland Farmers Market, Holland, Michigan
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!   2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

“Our Christian response to the questions of theodicy should not be to seek to find apologetic explanations, or to passively submit to suffering, but to join the protesting and suffering God in fighting to end human misery and injustice.   A theology of the cross is a theology of protest. We focus on the cross in the hope that one day there will be no more crosses.” by Derek Flood

Derek Flood in his book, “Healing the Gospel: A Radical Vision for Grace, Justice and the Cross”, makes the argument that healing is best understood in the nature of restoration.   He argues that this is the message of the New Testament and the message of Easter is when Christians acknowledge a cosmic restoration of God’s grace.  That is the basis of our Hope!

 “When will life be meaningful again?” is a common plea in response to the spiritual dislocation of illness.  When that time occurs, we can accurately state that restoration and healing have occurred.  Maybe a more accurate statement is that life takes on a new meaning and in some ways one that is “more meaning filled”.  

So God’s healing restoration is not just about returning to “life as it was”, but a new creation.  God’s act of grace on the cross changes everything for those who suffer.  We have a new identity by the unexpected and unmerited entry of God’s example in our lives.  

Have a blessed and healing Easter.


Flood, Derek (2012-08-06). Healing the Gospel: A Radical Vision for Grace, Justice, and the Cross (Kindle Locations 1953-1955). Cascade Books, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition. 

Previous Related Posts:

Friday, March 8, 2013


"Young and Old", Tenwek, 2012

In the Last Days, God says, “I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people: Your sons will prophesy, also your daughters; Your young men will see visions, your old men dream dreams.”     Acts 2:17 (NIV)

In the recent movie, “Quartet”, we are invited into the complicated stories of the lives of senior retired British opera singers.  There is one scene of a lecture by the protagonist, Reggie, about the nature of opera with the young who are visiting the retirement home.  It turns out to be a wonderful conversation.

Like the senior professional singers, how can we hear the stories of senior healthcare professionals?  One answer is that they require specific policies if they are to continue to practice.  It could be inferred that there is no specific utility or importance of these seniors in a culture of the newest and most advanced technology.   What the “Quartet” suggests is that their art lives on in profound ways because of the their stories and struggles.  A commentary about the lives of these seniors by the young physician for the retirement home in the “Quartet” reveals their contribution:  “Their love of life is infectious.  They inspire us.”

So instead of just seeing senior physicians as a “credentialing” issue, maybe our art and history can also inspire the young but it must be more than education.  I pray that our dreams will be fulfilled in the lives of the young as healing agents.  

Thanks be to God for all who practiced their art and their faith as service to God and his creation.



Porreco RP.  The senior obstetrician requesting obstetric privileges.  American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.  206(3):183-6, 2012 Mar.
Related Posts:
Gift Reflections, 10/3/11
Healing Agent Education, 11/14/11
Techniques and Transformation, 2/1/12
Kingdom Learning, 2/25/12
Vocation & Retirement, 7/3/12
“Burnout” and a “Path Report” - 8/12/12
Residential Learning, 3/2/13

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Residential Learning

Guest House at Tenwek Hospital, 2012 

We start our empathy learning in our homes from those we love and who love us.  There is evidence that there are genetic components, but we get to practice these responses with assistance in our homes.

Medical education is primarily a “problem-based” approach and located within the academy.  Unfortunately, this approach is associated with decreasing empathy in the learners.  So how can we find an educational response that promotes empathy in the learner?

In a recent edition of Christian Century “Roommates and Friends” describes an innovation in seminary education.   A space, “Friendship House” was established to provide housing with ministry to and with the disabled.  It is a beautiful and innovative example of healing learning!

I have only experienced a few places that are similar residential learning environments.   One example is a mission station like Tenwek where students can live in community with those they serve.  This guest house is a intergenerational and interdisciplinary space.   These residential spaces are powerful environments to learn and share the wonderful and difficult stories of healing.  

Have you experienced innovative, creative, empathetic healing learning environments?  I would love to hear where you have learned those empathetic skills.


Neumann M et al Empathy decline and its reasons: a systematic review of studies with medical students and residents.  Academic Medicine.  86(8):996-1009, 2011 Aug

Related Posts: 
Pupils/Patients - Teacher/Doctor, 2/14/11
Gift Reflections, 10/3/11
Healing Agent Education, 11/14/11
Techniques and Transformation, 2/1/12
Kingdom Learning, 2/25/12

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Praying for Stem Cells

Mouse Stem Cells - Wikipedia

On 2/22/13, ABC broadcast the healing story of Robin Roberts.  One particularly moving part of the story for me was the stem cell transplant with Dr. Sergio Giralt.  After all the toxicity of the chemotherapy the moment for injection was complemented by a physician’s prayer and “tears in his eyes” of Dr. Giralt.  

What is remarkable is that these prayers are not unique.  What seems unique is the prayer offered by the physician. The mystery of this technology is a reality for physicians.   This is a great example of how technology and faith can co-exist. 

The larger healing story was of a family, faith, courage and the witness of this reality to a national audience.  Thanks be to God for healing agents like the nurses, Dr. Giralt at Sloan-Kettering Institute and the healing of Robin Roberts.

Monday, February 11, 2013


“True Religion is Care for the Widowed and Orphaned - 
With God Everything is Possible”

“To prevent disease, to relieve suffering and to heal the sick - this is our work.”
William Osler, Aequanimitas

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  
Romans 15:13 (NIV)

The movie, “Les Misérables”, is a powerful and sung story of suffering!  But there is another important dimension to the story, Hope.  Both suffering and hope are critical components of this universal story.  The question for healing agents is “Where do we find Hope?”.

One of my responses to residents facing a clinical challenge was “Hope is not a plan!”.   I was attempting to get them to see and state the “action items” as they confront the uncertainty of obstetric care.   But maybe they were “right”!  “Hope” is the basis of those action items that bring us to the tasks of care.  Hope is that longing for relief that comes from our calling to be with the suffering.  Hope is the spiritual basis of our longing to relieve suffering.

For Christians, suffering and hope are part of a story and a song we sing about a time when there will be no more tears or suffering.   Thanks be to God for the Hope and mission of relieving suffering.


Post: Hope, June 18, 2012
Cassel EJ. The nature of suffering and the goals of medicine. New England Journal of Medicine.  306(11):639-45, 1982 Mar 18.
Deal B.  Finding meaning in suffering.  Holistic Nursing Practice.  25(4):205-10, 2011 Jul-Aug.

Friday, February 1, 2013

"Seeing the Elephant"

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
1 Corinthians 13:12 (The Message)

There is “an elephant in the room” on what we believe about healing!  We accept the scientific evidence model but realize that it only partially explains our experience.  

We do know that there is a relationship between our beliefs and healing and most of what we believe is dependent on what we “see”.  Certainly, our vision is often biased and susceptible to illusion and misunderstanding even for those of us with the finest tools.  

One phenomena that needs specific attention is the “placebo”.   This phenomena is the “raison d'être” and a critical component of randomized controlled trials.  It is felt to be responsible for about  20% of positive clinical outcomes and only partially explained as a psychosomatic response.  The other side of this placebo effect is that we can only explain 80% of positive outcomes.

What I have come to believe is that healing is real, common and only partially understood.  The problem is not the reality of healing, but our ability to see it and name it.  We need to continue to look for and slowly see the grandeur of the mystery of healing.   Thanks be to God for the promise of improving vision!



Photo: Original by Christel Brabon
Post: April 17, 2011,  The Mystery of Healing
Post: April 4, 2012, Recognizing Healing
Kaptchuk TJ.  The placebo effect in alternative medicine: can the performance of a healing ritual have clinical significance? Annals of Internal Medicine.  136(11):817-25, 2002 Jun 4.
McQuay HJ.  Moore RA. Placebo. Postgraduate Medical Journal.  81(953):155-60, 2005 Mar
Diederich NJ.  Goetz CG. The placebo treatments in neurosciences: New insights from clinical and neuroimaging studies. Neurology.  71(9):677-84, 2008 Aug 26.
Finniss DG.  Kaptchuk TJ.  Miller F.  Benedetti F.  Biological, clinical, and ethical advances of placebo effects. Lancet.  375(9715):686-95, 2010 Feb 20.
Pohlman S. Cibulka NJ Palmer JL. Lorenz RA. SmithBattle L. The placebo puzzle: examining the discordant space between biomedical science and illness/healing. Nursing Inquiry. 20(1):71-81, March 2013.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Nature of Healing

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
                                            James 5:13-16  King James Version

When you talk to theologians, healing is usually equated with “wholeness”.  It can be part of liturgies or services of healing that include scripture about God’s love and responses to the suffering of his children.  It is sometimes associated with rituals of anointing with oil.

My best understanding of healing is what most of us have experienced either as a recipient or a provider.  When as children we first endure injuries or pain, we usually need a hug of reassurance as well as a “kiss to make it better”!   We are reassured and we do feel better and soon we are back playing with a colorful bandaid as evidence of the injury.  
I think this is what happens in the healing ministries of the church.   God reaches down and gives us hugs and kisses with and through the love and concern of the community of faith.  He then anoints us with the promise of His continuing presence.   

Thanks be to God for His healing prescription.



Post: The Mystery of Healing - 4/17/11
Sulmasy DP.  Spirituality, religion, and clinical care. Chest.  135(6):1634-42, 2009 July