How does a fallen world begin to heal?  How do the shattered pieces get put back together to form a picture that is even more beautiful than it was to begin with?  The answer: piece by piece.  Those called of God take up their vocations.  As Teresa Avila so eloquently puts it:

            Christ has no body but yours,
            No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
            Yours are the eyes with which he looks
            Compassion on this world,
            Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
            Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

With Christ’s hands, we pick up the shards one at a time; we do what God has called us to, in all that we do.

But if we are to effectively respond to God’s call on our lives in the vocations that are ours, there is something we must do first.  We must listen, and not only once, but continually.  God calls, and we must listen attentively to that call.  A world around us calls, and we must listen attentively if we are to be God’s hands and feet serving the world in its need.  This seems painfully obvious, but in our modern wired, technology saturated, media-glut age with our nanosecond attention spans, how often do we hear what we think we heard without listening to what was actually spoken?  For our day especially, listening is an under-practiced discipline, but one that is necessary if we are to be faithful and effective in our acts of service to the Kingdom and its King.

This month we focus on the daily work of healthcare providers.  Their work perhaps best exemplifies the importance of the practice of listening.  We can be grateful for the thoughtful, skillful, and compassionate care doctors, nurses, and technicians provide daily to the broad spectrum of men, women, and children in need.  Indeed, from a vocational perspective, having hands that bring healing and wholeness is tremendously honorable and redemptive work in God’s world.  Yet we can all think of instances, either from our own experiences or those of our family and friends, when it seemed that a healthcare provider just didn’t seem to be listening.  And when we find ourselves in these situations, frustration and anxiety enter in, and it seems that the healing of the world has abated if only slightly.

And so, The Washington Institute has asked four health professionals to reflect on the ways they think about listening as part of their daily work: Dr. Ryan Buchholz, Internist and Pediatrician; Dr. Curt Thompson, Psychiatrist; Eden Garber, Family Nurse Practitioner; and Dr. Larry Bergstrom, Internal Medicine Physician.  May they be an example and an encouragement to all of us as we diligently listen and respond to our own callings in our own lives.

-Jay Bilsborrow, Web Editor

Four Reflections

On the Auscultation of the Heart by Dr. Ryan Buchholz

Are You Listening by Dr. Curt Thompson

Listening Is Not Hearing by Eden Garber

Listening in Medicine by Dr. Larry Bergstrom