Thursday, August 10, 2017

Being the Christ-light

Image result for candle flame
I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the night-time of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh I'll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we've seen this journey through.

  The Servant Song

Years ago I told Ruth, my wife, that if I should die of a disease which led to a prolonged illness that I didn't want any language used about a "lengthy battle" or a "heroic fight," even if I did everything possible to prolong my life. Through my years of ministry I resisted engaging in that sort of conversation with those to whom I provided pastoral support. I witnessed many examples of courage and determination and grace in the face of terrible illness, but I don't recall these folk wanting to talk about the battle they were engaged in. This wasn't a military offensive, it was the desire to live life fully, often in the face of bleak prognoses. The words of the hymn called The Servant Song made a lot more sense to me than the language of Onward Christian Soldiers.

On CBC radio's Metro Morning today a psychiatrist who works with cancer patients suggested that this sort of "battle" language isn't particularly helpful as patients navigate their way through illness. There is a growing number of physicians and other caregivers who are rethinking the use of this imagery. When interviewer Matt Galloway asked what might be more helpful the encouragement was to be a companion to the one who is suffering and that terminology is not necessary. Amen!

 I found the discussion to be very worthwhile and I commend it to you.

What are your thoughts about this? Do you think it's good to speak about "fighting the good fight,"  to use the apostle Paul's phrase? Have you been a companion to someone with a serious illness, and held a hand in the night time of their fear?

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