Spiritual healing—dissolving separation

At a conference "Spirituality & Healing in Medicine—II" conference in Boston, sponsored by Harvard Medical School and The Mind/Body Medical Institute, CareGroup, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, December 15–17, 1996. The conference will be repeated later this week, March 15–17 in Los Angeles . recently, Dr. Gregory Fricchione, a medical physician, was addressing his audience on the value of bringing spiritual approaches to the bedside when caring for patients. He spoke of how those who are sick often experience a deep sense of separation. Dr. Fricchione illustrated his point by showing a photograph of one of Michelangelo's famous frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. On the ceiling of the chapel, God is stretching out his arm to Adam, while Adam somewhat tentatively reaches back to God. On close inspection, it becomes apparent that the finger of God and Adam's finger don't quite touch. There is this small space separating them—a very small space, yet poignantly, a much greater distance. Spirituality and prayer, the doctor observed, can help a patient feel reattached. The conclusion was drawn that coming closer to God is important in healing.

The next day I happened to read again one of the extraordinary healings recorded in the New Testament. In this account, Jesus and his disciples are traveling from Capernaum to the city of Nain (see Luke 7:11–16). As they approach the city gates, they come upon a funeral procession. It is a scene that pulls at your heart. The young man who has died was his mother's only son. The mother is also a widow. The separation she must be feeling is surely grievous, having lost both of these men in her family.

March 10, 1997
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