I had my first ultrasound last night. Don't worry--it was just for my knee! (ha! I bet you just about fell off your chair when you read 'ultrasound,' didn't you, Mom?). My physical therapist friend Raphael has adopted me as guniea pig and got permission from the powers-that-be at the hospital to try to help my leg feel better. So I stopped by last night and got to see where he works and more about what he does. He poked at the back of my knee for a while and did ultrasound therapy on it. He sort of implied that I shouldn't go running, but since he's not REALLY my therapist, I went anyway. That lasted all of 13 min., so no more running for me until Sunday. Excluding, of course, running for trains, trams, and busses. Nice having friends at the hospital though, huh? Next I think I'll make some Accountant friends, and some Airline employee friends, and maybe some Hotel employee friends. Just kidding. (And don't get me started on what I actually think about such shameless, 'think-not-what-you-can-do-for-others-but-what-others-can-do-for-you' networking strategies).
But, all that to say, I do have quite a few friends at the moment working in fields related to health and well-being. For the most part, they are jobs I admire but would have a very difficult time doing myself. I wouldn't want to work in a hospital for instance. But, I've been doing this project on HIV/AIDs, and thinking about theological perspectives on health care. I'm reading a book on the churches' response to AIDS. It talks about the theology of creation, and how from that we learn about relationships in the world, and about God's initiating and sustaining relationship with us and the rest of creation--relationships marked by love and by the granting of freedom of response. Then in the incarnation, we see this model of love and freedom enacted in Jesus, who showed what it's like to live in right relationship with God and with people. Some thoughts on Christians and disease, from the book:
"Just as God in love accompanies all creation [didn't leave it to fend for itself, but continually extends himself by sustaining creation and by offering grace to us], so Jesus went among the poor, telling them that they were loved by God even if they had not been able to keep the law scupulously. He dined with the rich...he healed Jewish lepers and a Roman soldier's child. There were women in the group that travelled with him, and unlike many holy men he did not shrink away from the touch of a prostitue. In all that breadth of relationship, Jesus incarnated the accessibility of God, who "shows no partiality" (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11), but is open to all--rich or poor, sick or healthy, old or young...all this has something to say to the churches about human being-in-relation. [...]There can be no valuable relationship in which each does not desire the well-being of the others. God's concern for the well-being of creation is visible in Jesus' healing of the sick and his exorcising of demons. Medical work and froms of other healing maintain that tradition. This is one way human beings express both the openness, and the esteem and affection, of their being-in-relation to those with HIV/AIDS, even though no cure has been found.
Relationships continually require an enlargement of understanding. No one understands from the start everything about being in relation. [...] Jesus, praying in the garden of Gethsemane that the cup of suffering might be taken from him, does not appear as one who is iron-clad in divine immunity, but rather as a person who went forward without the certainty of any such position and trusted in God. Nor are we required to be invulnerable and certain in our relationships. Rather we are called to be open, learning, and trusting."
Fitting health care and our response to suffering into perspectives of creation and the incarnation makes a lot of sense to me. Without that, hospitals make me think of Hobbes and his observation that life is nasty, brutish and short. It's been good hanging out with my medically-minded friends, like Raph, and watching them care for people. I'd still probably be a really bad nurse, but I'm starting to understand care-giving professions more.