Statement from the Benefactor of Lectureship
The Wisdom of Margaret E. Mohrmann, MD
In her book, Medicine as Ministry, Dr. Mohrmann teaches that each life is a story that reads like a novel with a beginning, a “muddle,” and an end. Each happening in one’s life is interwoven with all others and is expressed in one’s actions and in one’s relationships. Chapter by chapter, the story goes on until the point that marks the end of life, and that too is a part of the ongoing story. Remembering that the two most important things at the heart of care giving are silent presence and the ability to take a history, to hear a story, a good first question for a caregiver to ask him/herself when approaching a patient for the first time is: “Who is this and what is his/her story?”
Because the heavy burden in care giving falls not on the physician and nurse but on the patient and the patient’s family, Dr. Mohrmann refers to the patient as the “wounded hero,” who must now ponder his/her life in the light of new, sometimes self-shattering information. The therapist’s task—medical, nursing, lay, clerical, and/or other—is to help the hero write the next chapter, a chapter that is a part of the hero’s on-going story and no one else’s, generating what is to come in subsequent chapters or the final chapter should that be the case.
Dr. Mohrmann rightfully points out that we, as the “healers,” are very often “wounded healers,” and that each of us individually writes and lives our own story. It is wise for us to remember that we are always entertaining angels unaware. We need to be open to healing from those we serve because one of them may have something important to give us. It is in the examining room or at the bedside where these two stories meet—caregiver and patient. Thus begins a metaphor of dance and reciprocity, freely giving love and freely receiving love.
Because Dr. Mohrmann challenges us to consider and to rethink the traditional practices of care giving within the theological ethics of carefully and consensually fashioning a fitting answer, rather than the struggling for the “right” answer, this makes her an ideal choice as the first Thelma Shobe Distinguished Lecturer. As the benefactor of the Lectureship, my husband, Montford Grant Cook, and I are honored that Dr. Mohrmann has been chosen by the Panel for Lecture Guidance and that Dr. Mohrmann has accepted the invitation.†
Thelma Shobe Cook
† Source for these comments:
Medicine as Ministry (1995) authored by Margaret E. Mohrmann and published by The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, Ohio.