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.
Blog 7/2/11 Minds, Bodies, Machines and Souls
Gawande, A. (2011). Personal best. The New Yorker