Our Great Physician(s)

This coming Sunday at Rainbow we will consider a healing narrative found in the gospel of Mark (Mark 1:29-39). Bob Carlson has agreed to come alongside me and offer some reflections on healing.

What I would really like to do is have all of our medical professionals offer a scriptural reflection on healing. Of course if we did that we might be here all day because there are probably over 20 health professionals in this congregation. I’m told that the original location of Rainbow Mennonite Church (Rainbow Boulevard) was chosen in large part due to its close proximity to KU Medical Center. This makes sense given that from the very start of this congregation, about two thirds of the congregation was made up of medical students and professionals.

IMG_1690Joe Duerksen (pictured to the right) is one of the many great physicians at Rainbow who has cared for countless lives throughout his long and admirable career. He practiced medicine with integrity while simultaneously trusting in and praying to the Great Physician, a name given to Jesus. Click here for more information about Joe:  Joe D.

Whether you are a medical health professional or not, most of us will step foot into a health care setting at some point in our life, whether to visit someone or as the one visited.

I’ve actually been going through old pastor files left behind by Robert, Frank, Ron, Gary, Clyde and who knows who else? One file that caught my attention was by Frank: The art of hospital visitation I like how straight forward and simple it is. For example, under the heading YOUR PURPOSE it says, “Have one.” And please no ganging up and NO SMOKING! Frank must have been skilled at hospital visitation because my husband Jesse and his parents have fond memories of Frank’s presence when Jesse had back surgery at KU Med Center as an adolescent.

I began compiling my thoughts on hospital visitation while serving as a hospital chaplain. Years later I edited it after asking a room full of retirees what it was like to be visited while receiving medical care. Click here to read their list:  Do and do not-Hospital Visitation

My own mantra when visiting people in the hospital is fairly simple: Stop, look and listen. I also try and think about what puts me at ease when I am hurting or vulnerable. It is key to stay aware of one’s own preferences and know that these preferences may or may not be shared by others. It’s oh so easy to project our preferences or our care language onto another person and make them uncomfortable as a result.

Another thing I’ve been taught is to avoid yes or no questions. Maybe you can find a time to use one of these questions: Who or what do you turn to for support? What do you lack that you wish you had? What are you most worried about? What do you anticipate or hope? What do you think your life will be like in 5 years?

One more thing to say is that sometimes the most caring thing to do is stay home (especially if the sight of blood makes you stop, drop and roll).

At one point or another we will probably end up on or beside a hospital bed. Let’s hope we all receive and give caring support from those around us. And may we continue to hope that our Great Physician is with us in it all.


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