Recently I had the privilege of speaking at our local “City-Wide Prayer Service for Mental Illness Awareness Week” sponsored by NAMI Tulsa. In the program was the following quote from Father Thomas Keating.”Some wounds are so deep there can be no immediate relief, no consolation; there may even be an ocean of grief extending in every direction and apparently endless. In some way, all suffering is in God. Thus, our pain is God’s pain, and that means that in due time it will become life-giving and healing in the very measure of its intensity.”
As I’ve reflected upon this quote, I’ve been pondering the importance of balancing the compulsion to cure with the need to find daily compassion to care. The cure may or may not come in this lifetime but caring must! A recent breakfast conversation put this in perspective.
I have a good friend who lives daily with the challenge of cerebral palsy. His loving family also lives daily with this life challenge because they love and care for him. My friend and I email each other periodically.
Recently my friend’s father was in town on business and we got together for breakfast to catch up. He shared with me about the crisis they went through as a family when his wife’s knee literally disintegrated from cancer leading to a subsequent amputation and ultimate need for a prosthesis. On two separate occasions, as the consequence of seven embolisms moving against her heart, he nearly lost his wife—my friend’s mother.
This is a spiritually-minded man of prayer who believes in miracles and would love to see both his wife and son cured. He believes that “all things are possible” but acknowledges that there is not much of a probability that he will see such cures in his lifetime.
He presented me with a metaphor and by it a message to ponder. “Tim, it is like I’m on a highway without exit ramps and no end in sight. But I love those I’m traveling with and I’m committed to them and them to me. Together we are making this journey one mile at a time. Yes, there are times of real pain and suffering but also a real joy. We find joy in our love relationships with God and each other. This joy gives us strength to serve each other.”
I long for a cure and I’m compelled to do all that I can to promote cure in my life and that of those I love. I long for a cure and I applaud any and all positive efforts to secure a cure. I also know that I can be so obsessed with cures that I miss the day-to-day need and opportunity to care for myself and the others entrusted to me to care for. Failure to care while obsessing over cure can, at the moment, forfeit healing. Not all healing is a cure and not all cure is healing. In this life, healing is caring and as such is greater than cure.
I conclude that this is not an “either/or” proposition—this is a “both/and” proposition. This is a synergistic proposition. When spiritually motivated compassion to care is maintained in tandem with a compulsion to pursue a cure, the possibility of MIRACLES will become an increasing probability.
TIM RESIDE is the President of Bright Tomorrows. Tim has completed 108 credit hours of study in Practical Theology, inclusive of 36 hours at the doctoral level, and holds an MA in Practical Theology. Tim has been successfully coping with and overcoming bipolar illness since 1979.