Monday, January 20, 2014

A couch potato, a working author...and a spiritual book

Martin Luther King Day, and I’m a bit ashamed that I didn’t do community service today. But I did do family service. Since there was no school, Jacob was here all day. Last night, he and his dad came for supper—yummm! Pork chops in a cream/Dijon/bourbon sauce with sautéed apples (which Christian didn’t like) and onions. Jacob hugged me goodnight, and his dad asked if he didn’t want to spend the night. I pointed out he could sleep late (if he went home, he’d have to get up early to come here) and have waffles for breakfast. Instant reply: “Bye, Dad.” He did sleep until slightly after nine, got up demanding, “Can I have my breakfast?” and spent the morning watching TV (another cause of guilt on my part—but I got so much done while he was content).

We went out for lunch to meet a former student of mine, Jacob grousing all the way. He didn’t want to eat with an old lady (I explained she was his mom’s age), he wanted to eat at the Grill. But my friend Heather entranced him telling about the homeless man whose story she is writing and talking football with him. When we got in the car, he said, “That was pretty much fun.”

So we had a distant but good day—I got a lot of work done, and he watched TV. Maybe every once in a while it’s okay to just let him chill and be a couch potato. It was a beautiful day, and he should have been out playing—but with no playmates, what fun is that?

Tonight I went to the church women’s book club discussion of God’s Hotel, a book I am more and more impressed with for what it teaches about holistic medicine, what the author calls “Slow medicine” as opposed to “efficient modern health care.” You watch the author grow spiritually and as a healer during the book—she learns to sit by a patient’s bedside, quietly, for long periods of time, trying to determine what comes between that patient and health; she sees a patient hover, with one foot crossing over and the other still in this world—and then choose to live. It’s a remarkable look at spiritual healing. We agreed working in those conditions, with the indigent, homeless, often mentally ill patient population isn’t for everyone in the healing professions, but for this woman physician, it became her passion. And what she learned along the way is remarkable.

The book is also a good look at what bureaucracy does to medicine—and we drew the parallel to what bureaucracy does to education. People who have never stood before a classroom make dramatic decisions, just as people who’ve never treated a patient build new hospitals (without storage for wheelchairs) and make decisions about patient care. If you have any interest in medicine or spiritual journeys or the concepts of community and charity, I urge you to read this book.

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