by Sr. Sheila Campbell, MMM Ireland 20.01.2022
Healing is a word that you hear often in MMM circles. In one sense it is a deeper understanding of what a Medical Congregation is all about. We run hospitals, clinics and out stations not only to cure but also to heal.
When we talk about “cure” the disease is over. You can turn your attention to the next patient. “To heal” is a much slower process. It involves not the physical body but the mind and spirit as well.
To heal is to be patient. We need to be patient with ourselves first. We do not fully understand the urges and motives that lead the other to make unhealthy choices. In our own lives do we always make the perfect decisions for our wellbeing?
When I worked in Salvador, Brazil, I worked with women in street-level prostitution. These women often came from unhappy and abusive families and could see little improvement in their life situations. One for these was Gracie. We got to know her first as a 12-year-old, running the streets and sleeping in doorways. She told us that she had a mother, but her mother was sick. A year after we met her, the mother died of T.B. and Gracie was alone in the world. She would not accept shelter or much help except for the use of the bathroom and for a quick snack. But she loved to talk. As she grew older, she longed for a child. But she also became addicted to crack cocaine. Life on the streets is tough. For a couple of years she kept telling us she was pregnant, but no baby arrived and there was no talk of abortion either.
She finally did have a child but she knew herself she was unable to care for the baby and gave her up for adoption. “But I am a mother”, she kept telling me. And I assured her that indeed she had a beautiful baby daughter. Gracie died one day, stabbed to death by her “partner”, while she was sleeping rough on the street. It was December 31st. Just twenty minutes before the New Year. She was just eighteen.
Like our work with Gracie, we need to be patient with those we serve. Often we will see no tangible results. Some may have diminished understanding due to age or disease. Others may feel paralysed by fear, mistrust or years of neglect or bullying. To engage in the process of healing with another person is a spiritual journey for both parties. God wills us both to health but God’s understanding may not be the path I have planned for the journey! Am I open to the process of healing today?