Friday, January 02, 2009

Western Medicine and the Healing Process

How does a person get well?  What is healing?  Does God really heal miraculously?  How does western medicine cooperate with the healing process?  How does one maintain spiritual health when the body appears to be suffering from un-health?

Perhaps an even better question:  what IS health anyway?

I've got a lot of these questions racing through my mind after the last few months in particular of seeing many dear friends and relatives get hit hard by various illnesses, some absolutely life-threatening, others simply bringing misery and pain and some despair.  All of us who are United Methodist here in this Conference are aware that one known as a spiritual giant among us, Rev. Kathleen Baskin-Ball, died of a very invasive cancer.  Was it possible that in her passion for her call as a clergy person she drove herself so hard that even she got off balance and did not have reserves to fight off the cancer when it began?

I write that because there is some evidence now that many malignant cancers form and then disappear--the body is able to fight them off.  How can some bodies fight them off, and some not be able to?  

As I wrote in an earlier post, all three of my grandchildren experienced significant illnesses this fall.  One was potentially life-threatening, the other two were simply felled by nasty viruses and other infections.  Are these normal experiences of growing up in a crowded world with constant exposure to others who are ill?  

A book I am currently reading about this history of ideas suggests that as soon as people stopped the roving hunter/gatherer lifestyle, they began to experience greater bouts of ill-health.  These are guesses from archaeological evidence, but the theory is intriguing.  People become more settled, the diet becomes less varied (with the development of agriculture and the domestication of animals), along with less physical exertion required to survive:  perhaps all together make us more vulnerable to the disease process.

And then there is the question of stress:  how much "stress" makes us more vulnerable to illness and how much is necessary in order to grow and thrive and create?

I've not got answers here, but am hoping to ponder and write about these things for a while.  I just don't think that our spiritual health is a separate issue from our physical and emotional health, and I don't think one can be addressed without addressing the other.  We shall see where these thoughts go.  Any suggestions and ideas are welcome.

1 comment:

Angie said...

OK, I am going to go out on a limb and say that I think that those hospitals and centers that treat the whole person and not just the illness are on the right track.
Was watching a program just now on the History channel and they were talking about the sin of Sloth and how it might have been depression and how it was viewed as such back during the Roman times.
Of course they also said it was a demon that caused it.
Seems to me that our over all health is deeply connected to our spiritual health. Jesus healed physical ills, but always included the spiritual forgiveness of sins. We don't talk about this these days, but maybe we should. I'm not saying sin is the cause of ills. I'm just saying that our well being is not just physical in nature.

What about the rest of you. What do you think?

I'm facing a new wrinkle in my current health and I'm certainly going to spend more time taking care of my whole body and that includes the spiritual part of it.

My big question has always been why me? Now days, I'm spending less time on the why me and more on the what now.

Thanks for addressing some of my questions Christy. I look forward to reading more of what you have to say on healing.