Thursday, August 10, 2017
Being the Christ-light
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. http://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/metro-morning/episode/13649225
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?