If you were made, assembled, like a car or truck, there would be no need for compassion and care when it came to your health needs, to fixing you up. Switch out a part or two, bang out a dent when needed, and you would be good to go.
Yet, you know there is more to you than body parts, and health care means more than just cleaning out a filter and changing spark plugs, so to speak.
Francis W. Peabody, M.D., in 1927, wrote The Care of the Patient. Peabody’s piece is one of the most recounted articles in medical literature. In part, he penned, “The good physician knows his patients through and through, and his knowledge is bought dearly. Time, sympathy and understanding must be lavishly dispensed, but the reward is to be found in that personal bond which forms the greatest satisfaction of the practice of medicine. One of the essential qualities of the clinician is interest in humanity, for the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.”
Here in 2012, really knowing the patient “through and through,” should, to some degree, include the healer being aware of a patient’s mental and spiritual needs.
In 2002, editors Raymond F. Paloutzian, PhD and Crystal L. Park, PhD published the Handbook Of The Psychology Of Religion And Spirituality. They brought together prominent scholars who surveyed research in the connection between health, thought, and spirituality.
Paloutzian and Park wrote, "The present is a very exciting time for the emerging transdisciplinary field of religion, spirituality, and health. Research findings are slowly coalescing into a coherent picture of how the human body and human health are affected by the perennial human quest in various forms for spiritual and religious truth. Many psychologists and religionists, but perhaps not enough, are moving beyond earlier mutual stereotypes and learning to collaborate. Only through such collaboration, we believe, can we apply the fullest range of knowledge and wisdom to fostering human health and well-being in the context of today’s dire global needs."
Eight years later, Dr. Larry Dossey, former Chief of Staff of Medical City Dallas Hospital, writing for The Huffington Post, reported, “A survey of American family physicians found that 99 percent are convinced that spiritual beliefs can heal, and 75 percent believe that prayers of others can help a patient recover. A recent survey of over 4,000 nurses found that 80 percent felt that spirituality should be covered in nurse education as a core aspect of nursing.”
All through the years, there have been practitioners from many modalities of healing that have applied spiritual techniques in their healing arts. We may not understand each of these healing methods, but perhaps you and I could agree that care, which expresses a measure of love, can brighten even the darkest moments in a sufferer’s struggle for comfort. Love heals.
In the late eighties, I attended a talk by Gordan Clarke, a Christian Science practitioner from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the lecture, Clarke explained how a woman had come to his office looking like the "perfect presentation of a Walt Disney witch." He said she was disheveled, dark in her expression and disposition. The woman came to him for relief from a physical ailment.
Clarke took the case, and shared with the woman what he felt were meaningful, spiritual truths. Previously, in his practice, he had see that when the facts about a patient’s spiritual nature were understood and affirmed, mental and physical relief came.
He prayed for the woman and felt he was feeding her with spiritual inspiration. After several visits and discussions, the woman simply turned to him with teary eyes and said, "If you would only love me, I know I would be healed."
Her statement shocked him. Hadn't he been loving her, caring for her in his prayerful treatment for her all along? Or, on the contrary, had he been merely seeing a poor soul that needed what he had to offer?
He was humbled. Then he felt love pouring into him and out from him to this woman. She, like so many of us, was in need, not only of physical healing, but of the most vital comforting antidote: loving care.
He loved her, not with pity but with compassion and tender respect. He attempted to love her, to some degree, as he knew God loved her.
The next time the woman returned to his office, not only was she physically healed, Clarke said that her whole face had changed. She no longer looked like a Walt Disney witch. She was open, and bright, and lovely.
Nothing facilitates betterment more than the heartfelt and thoughtful care of a practitioner.
It brings added significance to Peabody’s assertion, “One of the essential qualities of the clinician is interest in humanity,” when you begin to glimpse tender care to be one of the paramount foundation stones of humanity. Knowing this, you further realize that, possibly, spiritual love is a required ingredient in the prevention of diseases as well as their cure.
I’ve heard that a wise physician once said to his patient, "I've been practicing medicine for 30 years, and have prescribed many things. But in the long run I've learned that, for most of what ails the human creature the best medicine is love." When asked, "What if it doesn't work?" He answered, "Double the dose."
When your physician cares, you are probably receiving their very best.
– Keith Wommack is a Syndicated Columnist, Christian Science practitioner and teacher, husband, and step-dad. He has been described as a spiritual spur (since every horse needs a little nudge now and then). Keith’s columns originate at: http://texashealthblog.com/