Monday, December 15, 2014

Hope Agents

“And whenever I see people engaged in that work of love, 
I sense the divine presence brushing us with a touch so gentle you can miss it, 
and yet know beyond all possibility of doubt 
that this is what we are called on to live for, 
to ease the pain of those who suffer 
and become an agent of hope in the world.”  

“Hope is not costless in the way that optimism is.”

                                                      Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

It is easy to forget who we are and what we do!  I was reminded this last week in two ways, by the book The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and the public attention to the heroes of our time.  The Time announcement and the CNN Heroes helped us see the reality of Hope.  We were all reminded of the reality of vocation.

These headlines were not about fear, equality or even the stock exchange. It was about dedication and the reality of disease that got the attention of the world.   It was about the definition of “heroes” as those who create those safe spaces in a world of threats and pain.  It was about being healing agents by bringing Hope to a suffering world.

The message for me was the importance of the integration of our theology with the reality of our world and the meaning it brings.  We have seen the deeds before and we were reminded again of the reality of God’s work in the world.  



Sacks, Jonathan (2012-09-11). The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning (p. 206, p 242). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

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

Hage, M.L. (2014). The Limits of Healing? Retrieved from 

Hage, M. L. (2014). Healing Ebola. Retrieved from 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ancestry Gift

Start children off on the way they should go, 
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.   
Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)

 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, 
that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
1 John 3:1 (NIV)

It all started with a request from our granddaughter to provide five generations of ancestors for a school project.  That wasn’t too hard, but finding the specifics and the stories behind these names was harder.  The good news is that we rediscovered some wonderful ancestor stories already in our possession.

What was more important than the pedigree of names, dates and places were stories of a sustaining faith even in the face of very difficult circumstances. The obvious question is “Are those characteristics of strength, courage and faith, elements of nature or nurture?”  Will this school assignment teach these life lessons?  Will sharing the stories help us live our own story with more purpose and meaning?

There is a lot of debate theologically and scientifically about the origins of faith and meaning.  Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in his recent book, The Great Partnership: Science, Religion and the Search for Meaning, articulates a comprehensive response that promotes the integration of these perspectives.  

As a new grandfather, I thought it was important to document the early history of my grandchildren, so I made short videos of their births and baptisms.  Now, questions about our family history are new chapters in their stories. What a gift to be invited to be a partner in learning with them the stories of our ancestors!


Sacks, J. (2014). The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning (Reprint ed.). Schocken

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Theology of Healing

Cover of "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. 
Matthew 4:23(KJV)

Sometimes you are given the gift of words and that is what happened, specifically, a sermon delivered by Dr. Sam Wells at Duke Chapel on February 15, 2009, titled “Does God Heal?” .  His words were “good old news”!  How did I miss this sermon?  At about the same time, I began reading my granddaughter’s recommended novel, Wonder, by R. J. Palacio.  Here is a story of healing that is a hit among 9 year olds!

The problem is how we understand what we are asking for and how this is relates to the healing as reported in the Bible.  What is clear is that we all need to know where “God Is?” in the midst of disease and pain!  An emphasis of Dr. Wells is the importance of the definitions and how they help us understand our deepest questions.  For Auggie, the protagonist in Wonder, we become part of a story of courage and caring in the real world of suspicion, doubt and fear.  This is a wonderful story of healing!

For Christians we have the powerful model of Jesus Christ who not only healed those around him, but brought healing to a suffering world where we have the privilege to be a part of His work.  We have been blessed with stories/sermons that get us close to the healing that is around us that we fail to name!  




Sermon by Dr. Sam Wells, 2/15/’2009 at Duke Chapel
Palacio, R. J. (2013). Wonder. Random House. 
Interview with the author RJ Palacio 
Hage, M. L. (2010). Healing Agents: Christian Perspectives Second Edition (2 ed.)
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Hage, M. L. (2011). The Mystery of Healing. 
Hage, M. L. (2012). Recognizing Healing. 
Hage, M. L. (2013). The Nature of Healing. Retrieved from 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Healing Art

Doctor and Doll by Norman Rockwell

“‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
Acts 2:17 (NIV)

We just finished a wonderful and color-filled autumn trip to the Northeast United States.  One of the highlights was the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.  I was moved by the character and vision of this man as captured in his voluminous depictions of American life and ideals.  

Where are we to find this kind of healing vision?  How can we capture a healing art in this complicated and cynical world?  My conclusion is that just like this Norman Rockwell image, it is found in both the old and the young where reality is created despite the evidence.  It is found in the visions of both!  It doesn’t deny the evidence, it sees beyond it.  Thanks for the healing art of Norman Rockwell.



The Norman Rockwell Museum
Hage, M. L. (2011). Healing - Other Views. 
Hage, M. L. (2011). Healing, HeLa and Heaven.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Healing Ebola

So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.
Numbers 21:9 (NIV)

“ Then to love the sick, each and all of them, more than if my own body were at stake.”
Paracelsus (1493–1541)

Just listen to the first person report of the care being provided!  Can you believe the courage it takes!   Physicians and nurses tell stories that help us to hear and see the reality of our fears and those of our patients.  We have the wonderful opportunity to be part of those stories.

We need to continue to look carefully for cures and methods of prevention for all those at risk.  But just as important, we need to pray for courage and relief from the fear that would paralyze all our efforts.   Thanks be to God for the healing agents who have given their lives caring for the most vulnerable.



The Oath of Paraselsus Retrieved from

StoryCorps report that aired on NPR on October 10, 2014  Retrieved from

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

Hage, M. L. (2011). Good Courage and Healing. Retrieved from

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Humor and Healing

A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.
Proverbs 17:22 The Message (MSG)

It was an unplanned event, but we did get to attend the local university’s performance of Moliere’s The Doctor In Spite of Himself.  This performance was a 21st century adaptation of a 17th century farce on the foibles of medicine.  It is hard to fine any humor in medicine, so this was a welcomed critique.  One of Moliere’s famous quotes is:  “As the purpose of comedy is to correct the vices of men, I see no reason why anyone should be exempt.”

I was reminded of the medical student shows “roasting” their professors and the first modern exploration of the healing power of laughter, Norman Cousin’s The Anatomy of an Illness. (1979)  This remarkable work taught us the value of comedy in medicine.  Later we were entertained by the true story of Dr. Patch Adams (1998) and his practice of healing humor.  But for Moliere, the purpose of the comedy was critique and a mirror on the deceit and pretention of the medical profession.

So let us continue to laugh at ourselves and find again the joy of medicine…it is a biblical prescription!



Willms, J. L. (1999). A Doctor in Spite of Himself. Retrieved from

Cousins, N. (1983). Anatomy of an Illness. Bantam Doubleday Dell.

M.D, P. A. (1998). Gesundheit!: Bringing Good Health to You, the Medical System, and Society through Physician Service, Complementary Therapies, Humor, and Joy (Revised ed.). Healing Arts Press.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Healing Q&A

if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, 
if any comfort from his love, 
if any common sharing in the Spirit, 
if any tenderness and compassion, 
then make my joy complete
 by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
Philippians 2:1-2 (NIV)

If you have had a recent interaction with the healthcare system, you may have experienced an encounter where you respond by filling out a survey, providing a list of medications and/or helping someone “filling in” a computer screen.  One question you may have to respond to is “Do you have any health beliefs that may interfere with your health care?”  

I need to confess that I have been part of this reality that can ask the wrong question as well as hide physicians (and others) behind the technology.   What if the technology helped us ask “better questions” or helped us “listen better” to the answers? 

We know that the patient’s story and it’s telling is a primary care response.  What we also know is that our faith communities help us all to tell our stories and can be a community that listens.  It is a place where we can ask the healing questions and provide that primary care that is too easily lost in our anonymous and lonely planet.

What if the questions were, “Is your faith important for us to understand during your treatment?” or “Will your faith community be part of your care?”.   What if the answer was that your church is a critical part of your care and your healing faith?



Hage, M. L., & Brouwer, D. (2013). Becoming a (Healing) Agent of Jesus. Retrieved from

Shuman, J., & Volck, B. M. D. (2006). Reclaiming the Body: Christians and the Faithful Use of Modern Medicine (The Christian Practice of Everyday Life) (1 ed.). Brazos Press

Koenig HG. The spiritual history. Southern Medical Journal.  99(10):1159-60, 2006 Oct

Mueller PS.  Plevak DJ.  Rummans TA. Religious involvement, spirituality, and medicine: implications for clinical practice. [Review] [147 refs] Mayo Clinic Proceedings.  76(12):1225-35, 2001 Dec.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Arc of Healing

“A New Day Promise” at Lake Michigan

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, 
and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  
Genesis 9:13 New International Version (NIV)

“It is a strange glory, the glory of this God.” — 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, London Sermon, 1933

It is easy to get caught up in the 24 hour news cycle and recycle that leads us to a belief in the triumph of destruction and suffering in the world!  Can we still believe in the Genesis promise that destruction will not win and that wholeness will prevail?

When I hear the word “healing”, I usually find a deeper and more complex story.  It takes time to listen and understand the nuances.  Many times it is story of forgiveness.  Sometimes it is a story of resistance in the face of evil. 

I recently finished the book by Charles Marsh, Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  It is not just a story his life, but a record of complex events that made his life a testimony to a “strange glory”.  What was central is a deep belief that recognizes the sovereignty of God even in the most difficult times!  What is divine is how his testimony continues to bring healing and  gives us courage to live faithfully in a broken world. 

We can sing along with John McCutcheon “Alleluia, The Great Storm is Over” and claim the promises of a faithful God.



Marsh, Charles (2014-04-29). Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (p. 2). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 
Hage, M. L. (2013). Resistance/Resilience. Retrieved from 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Heaven and Healing

“They don’t believe me, do they?  
Colton in “Heaven is for Real”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. 
He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.   John 11:25 (NKJV)

Popular reports of “near death experiences” describe a kind of bliss that reports a profound healing that is named heaven.  How can we understand this depth of of this healing?  

Sometimes words and images fail us and we find an answer in music.  For me, those answers are in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem and in Jonathan Elias’s Prayer Cycle.  When listening to these works, I feel a kind of peace that is mysterious and deep.  There is a reality that is not found in images and words.  It is an awesome experience.

But is that enough, when we are faced with death where the pain is so deep and the circumstances so tragic?  This is where reality challenges our faith.  What sustains me is a community of faith that will sing and recite what we believe together.  It is for me where life is sustained and healing and heaven are found.



Heaven is for Real: The Motion Picture
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Requiem
Jonathan Elias: Prayer Cycle
Hage, M. L. (2011). The Mystery of Healing. Retrieved from
Hage, M. L. (2012). The Awe of Healing. Retrieved from

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Limits of Healing?

“Tell us please, what treatment in an emergency is administered by ear?"....I met his gaze and I did not blink. "Words of comfort," I said to my father.” 
― Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone

Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.  
Proverbs 16:24 (NIV)

In the world of healthcare, we continue to struggle within the limits of science and the reality of disease and suffering.  We all know about death and taxes!

What got me thinking about this dilemma was a recent professional conversation regarding a possible repeat cardiac surgery in a drug addicted patient.  It brought to mind a previous patient’s report from over 20 years ago by Lewis Grizzard in two books, They Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat  and I Took a Lickin’ and Kept on Ticking (And Now I Believe in Miracles).  The dilemma was the same, but what Lewis Grizzard taught me and what he learned was that although death and suffering are certain, there are other dimensions to our lives that transcend those realities.

Lewis Grizzard died after his fourth heart surgery(1994), but his life and reports still bring healing words to those who suffer and are with them.  The healing continues and I have every reason to believe that will continue.  These are holy words of comfort and healing.


“Hope” Sculture by Robert Indiana as reported Chicago Tribune November 2, 2011.
Verghese, A. (2010). Cutting for Stone (1st ed.). Vintage Books.
Grizzard, L. (2010). They Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat. NewSouth Books. Originally published in 1986
Grizzard, Lewis (2011-12-04). I Took a Lickin' and Kept on Ticking (And Now I Believe in Miracles). Green E-Books. Kindle Edition.  Originally published in 1993
Hage, M. L. (2012). Healing Words. Retrieved from

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Big Why

It was while reading Phillip Yancey’s Where is God When it Hurts?, that my daughter (age 5) quickly said “right here” when asked the difficult question as posed by the title.  Now, Phillip Yancey has another book, The Question That Never Goes Away,  This last book, provides first hand reporting of the mega-disasters of our time as well as his own confrontation with pain and mortality.  

The faithful answers to suffering and evil continue to challenge and paradoxically propel faith into action.  We are called not just to tell the stories, but to be present with those who suffer.  For Christians, we are also called to work for justice and peace.  We believe that God’s love will overcome evil and suffering.  

After a lifetime of experience that includes more than usual amount of suffering. my answer, like my daughters, is still “right here”.  It is not a naive response.  Like Yancey’s recent report, it is a response tested in the reality of a broken world.   It is a question that will continue to test all of us.  May we continue to see the presence of God in our lives and be that presence to those who suffer.  



Yancey, P. (1977). Where is God When It Hurts? Zondervan Publishing
Yancey, P. (2014). The Question That Never Goes Away. Zondervan.
Hage, M. L. (2011). Mega-disasters. Retrieved from
Hage, M. L. (2012). God’s Grace. Retrieved from

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Another Healing Place

Omaha Beach Cemetary

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

Yesterday, the 6th of June, 2014, we were reminded of the great sacrifice 70 years ago on the beaches of Normandy.  What was amazing to me was the focus on reconciliation and the pursuit of peace.

When I first visited Omaha cemetery in 1962, I was 21 and was moved by and identified with the young men who gave their lives on that beach.   Last year, I began to hear a larger dimension of the pursuit of peace when I visited the Memorial de Caen - Centre for History and Peace.  The goal was not just winning the war, but it was about winning the peace.  That goal continues to be a challenge in the world.

Today, there was another lesson from this place when we saw previous and current adversaries greeting each other on the beaches of Normandy.  We learned again that peacemaking is not just a history but a struggle that continues.  Let us all pray and work for peace.



Hage, M. L. (2011). Peace from above. Retrieved from

Hage, M. L. (2013). Healing Spaces. Retrieved from

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Healing Purpose

Is there no balm in Gilead?  Is there no physician there?
Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?
Jeremiah 8:22 (NIV)

Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.
Luke 17:33 (NIV)

It seems to be a recurring theme in the news…reports of “lostness”, alienation, and uncertainty about the purpose and meaning in our lives.  Even the idea of the “telos” of healing is at risk in a post-theological age.  There is a missing dimension in our lives that is not filled by things or with technology.  

What is central to the “lostness” is the aloneness of individualism and the mythology of the a zero sum culture…I win/you lose, I succeed/you fail, mine/not yours, etc.  What if we believed that when we lose our life, we really gain it!

In the memoir, The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics, we hear the story of competition but also see a reality of how losing oneself is redeeming.  This is a personal story of Joe Rantz but also a story of the gentle mentoring spirit of George Pocock, the designer and builder of the boat.  Here is one of the many lessons of George Pocock:

Perhaps the seeds of redemption lay not just in perseverance, hard work, and rugged individualism. Perhaps they lay in something more fundamental— the simple notion of everyone pitching in and pulling together.

The big question is what is that larger goal, that “telos”?  Do we find it in our own strivings?   For me, the healing purpose or “telos” is no easy prescription but a call to our vocation as healing agents. We have been called to bring a wholeness to a fractured world that we are part of.  We need that other “outside voice” that gently reminds us and calls us again and again to a “telos” beyond our quick solutions and simple prescriptions.  The paradox is that we find that “telos” for our lives in the witness of the “others” in our lives.  It is in our suffering together that we find healing and for Christians, it is the example of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  



Brown, D. J. (2013). The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (First Edition ed.). Viking Adult.

Brown, Daniel James (2013-06-04). The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (p. 123). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.. 

Hage, M.L. (2010). The “Telos” for Christian Healing Agents. Retrieved from

Hage, M. L. (2013). Resistance/Resilience. Retrieved from

Monday, May 19, 2014

Healing Reports

Sharing Healing News in Kenya*

I just finished two wonderful but very different books about healing described in very different ways and environments.  Both relate to the nature of chaplaincy.  What can be seen in both reports is the critical nature of healing in these different environments.   The first (Cadge, 2013) reports the many faces of chaplaincy in secular academic hospitals and the other (Braestrup, 2008) in the life and story of a chaplain to game wardens in Maine.   The first is an analytical report by a sociologist and the second is a memoir by the author/chaplain.

For me these two reports are helpful to see both the depth, breadth and power of these healing professions.  It is inspiring to hear the impact of these healing agents and the resonance with my experiences is reassuring.

What is clear is that there continues to be a deep need for the integration of our faith and knowledge in the care of those who face the crises of life and death.




Cadge, W. (2013). Paging God: Religion in the Halls of Medicine (1 ed.). University Of Chicago Press.

Braestrup, K. (2008). Here If You Need Me: A True Story (Reprint ed.). Back Bay Books. 

Hage, M. L., Tetel-Hanks, J., & Bushyhead, A. (1992). When the Bough Breaks--the Blalock’s Story. Duke University Medical Center. 

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

Hage, M.L. (2013). God’s Grace Revisited.  Retrieved from 

* The story behind the photo.  Mzungu-nyanya Retrieved from

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Getting Here

Gare du Nord Train Station, Paris, France

Retirement gives you an opportunity to try and understand the “journey/course” of your life.  Generally, it is not possible without some expert assistance.  We are so “close” to our own stories that understanding is difficult.   

George Marsden’s recent book The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief chronicles the larger story of American life and the course of my life.  His thesis is that the exclusion of religious perspectives from dominant scientific/technologic perspectives left a void in the meaning and purpose in American life. 

My argument, in brief, is that the culture wars broke out and persisted in part because the dominant principles of the American heritage did not adequately provide for how to deal with substantive religious differences as they relate to the public domain.

The task for much of my life was holding onto both a sense of meaning and purpose within the context of the science and technology of medicine.  Fortunately, I received the gifts of community and faith that occurred in both the worlds of faith and science.  

As we all know, the struggle has not ended for our society.  The book ends with an alternative historical perspective from the works of Abraham Kuyper.

Kuyper, by way of contrast, worked from a principle enunciated by St. Augustine: “I believe in order to understand.” Faith preceded understanding, and so faith informed and shaped understanding. Working from this principle, Kuyper insisted that reason, natural science, and methodological naturalism were not ideologically neutral. Even the most technical of natural sciences, he observed, operated within the framework of the faith, or higher commitments, of the practitioner. 

The challenge is to use this “big picture” perspective to continue to live into those higher commitments.  



Marsden, G. (2014). The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief. Basic Books. 

Ibid, p. 165

Hage, M. L. (2013). Seniors. Retrieved from

Hage, M. L. (2012). Thoughts. Retrieved from

Friday, April 25, 2014

Hearing Stories

Medical Brigade in Honduras, 2014

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe
Psalm 107: 2 (NIV)

Sometimes you are unaware of the privilege of “taking a history” and hearing the patient’s story until that is a rare part of your life.   It is one of the realities of retirement.  The recent exception was a week in Honduras with a medical brigade from Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church.  I was able to hear and see people telling their stories with people ready to listen.

At another time in Honduras (1998), I was told that “Being able to tell the story is the beginning of healing”.  What is also true is that it requires a listener and we are all called to be those people as noted by Dietrich Bonhoeffer at a much earlier time (1954). 

“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His word, but also lends us His ear”
--Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (1954), pp. 97-98

There is another component that happens when you are a part of the story.  This is a special kind of “active listening” that is empathetic.  It is not passive and distant!   It is the heart of healing!

Thanks for the healing power of stories!


Hage, M. L (2014). Returning.  Retrieved from
Hage, M. L. (2013). Difficult Conversations. Retrieved from

Friday, April 11, 2014

Ubuntu Revisited

Robben Island Prison Cell of Nelson Mandela

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3: 12-13 New International Version (NIV)

I just finished reading the latest book by Desmond Tutu written that confronts the difficult subject of Forgiving.   This is a guidebook as noted in the title, The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World.  We are given examples, exercises to practice  and methods of reflection.   The underlying response is our interconnectedness also known as ubuntu.

We are harmed together, and we heal together. It is only in this fragile web of relationship that we rediscover our purpose, meaning, and joy after pain and loss.

When we visited the prison at Robben Island, we felt the reality of that imprisonment.   The good news is that we also experienced the reality of the healing and remembered the joy of release!  The journey to joy is about forgiving and being forgiven!

Another way of thinking about forgiveness is as a need for a “cosmic pardon”!   We are all imprisoned by anger, regret and now we can receive a new freedom.  For Christians, we celebrate this healing forgiveness as the central message of Easter.



Tutu, Desmond; Tutu, Mpho (2014-03-18). The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World . HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. 

Hage, M. L. (2012). Rx Ubuntu. Retrieved from

Tutu, Desmond; Tutu, Mpho (2014-03-18). The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World (p. 104). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Journey to Joy

Obstetric Joy

“Pilgrimage is a journey taken in the light of a story.”  Paul Elie on Krista Tippett

“So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples” Matthew 28:8  New International Version (NIV)

We have been focused on finding “happiness” as a culture.  “Happiness” seems to have a kind of private/individual focus.  It seems to me that at this time of Lent/Easter we need to see that “joy” is the “light” in the pilgrimage in the Good News story!

A reality of our pilgrimage towards “joy” is that it is a journey in relationship to others.  When we are on pilgrimages we do not travel alone.  

We have that joy experience in relationship to others.   It is what we feel when we hear the Hallelujah Chorus or sing it standing with our brothers and sisters.   Most importantly it was the initial emotion in response to the reality of the resurrection; a reality that must be shared.   That Joy can be ours as well if we live our lives into that reality.


Hage, Marvin (2010-12-01). Healing Agents: Christian Perspectives (p. 65). Kindle Edition. 
Francis, P. (2013). The Joy of the Gospel: Evangelii Gaudium. Usccb. 
Paul Elrie  with Krista Tippett “On Being” - “Faith Fired by Literature”
Hage, M. L. (2013). Joy. 

Monday, March 3, 2014


Rembrandt's  Prodigal Son

“Altar Q: 16th Ruler Receives Staff of Leadership from 1st Ruler”, Copan, Honduras

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
Marcel Proust

Returning to Honduras (2/22/14) was exciting but with some emotional uncertainty.  When I left in 1998, it was at a of a time of personal and professional loss.  It was also a time of transitions that were difficult but helped shaped a new direction in my life.  So how did I see this place that was also a beginning?  Which “son” do I look like? (See David Brooks editorial)

What I experienced was some wonderful memories of a place and people.  What was the best was to experience and see my son's leadership. The community service model had not changed in form, but it's execution had been improved and expanded.

So, Rembrandt's depiction of a father and his sons and the Altar Q can also be seen from a perspective of a father's or a King's joy in the transfer and continuation of leadership and a work that is valued!


Luke 15:11-32
Fash, W. F., Ricardo Agurcia. (2007). History Carved In Stone: A Guide To The Archaeological Park Of The Ruins Of Copan, Fourth Edition (4th Edition ed.). Copan Association. Page 25.
Marcel Proust Quote: Most likely a misquote but with origins in the work “Remembrance of Things Past”.
Hage, Marvin (2010-12-01). Healing Agents: Christian Perspectives (p. 30). Kindle Edition. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The "Heart of Christianity"

After leaving Tenwek Kenya, we spent 3 days in Rome, Italy.  The first day we got a "Hop On/Hop Off" bus to get an overview of the Eternal City.  As we rounded the corner we saw St. Peter's Basilica and heard on the audio narration that "Here is the Heart of Christianity".  That announcement stayed with us and became a challenge as we viewed the wonderful art of this ancient city.

The last day, we visited a smaller church, “Santa Maria della Vittoria" and saw the Bernini sculpture "The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila".   The visions and embodiment of God's love in that sculpture is for me a better description of the "Heart of Christianity".  It is the passion that we saw and felt in Kenya!   It is that Love that we have received as an unmerited gift that makes all the difference.



Hage, M. L. (2011). The Mystery of Healing. Retrieved from

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Making a Difference?

The Mural of the Good Samaritan at the University of Nairobi

Before we left for Kenya, the question was “Do you see a difference?”  We definitely have in this place called Tenwek Hospital.   That question was also answered by the Bill GatesAnnual Letter 2014.  The Gates Foundation has a clear purpose and with partners is making a difference.  It is worth reading!

I just finished the book “The Unwinding:  An Inner History of the New America” by George Packer.  These stories of success and loss in America chronicle the “unwinding of America that is not encouraging.    The metric is income, foreclosures and financial loss.

What should we do with these divergent views of the world?   My short answer is that poverty and purpose are two different outcomes.  What I have seen here at Tenwek is a clear purpose that results in an increasing impact of this institution in this region.   So reduction of poverty, availability of clean water, medical care and education are all important; but it is a clear purpose that sustains the work here at Tenwek.  That purpose is found in the lives of the staff and sustained by their faith.


Another Beautiful Day in Kenya