WE GO TO PHYSICIANS with whatever ails us. We take off what the nurse asks us to and sit there until they appear. Who knows what the examination will reveal, but we try to prepare ourselves for the worst. It is not just our bodies that we are putting on the line, but maybe even our chance for survival. We are no longer in control of our future but, like children, can only wait for a grownup to determine it. Stripped of our dignity and self-confidence no less than of most of our clothes, we perhaps don't feel quite so vulnerable anywhere else on earth.

When physicians finally step through the door and start checking us over, we hang not just on every word they speak but on the look in their eyes and the tone of their voices for some clue to what they make of us. When they finally tell us, we listen as though our lives depend on it, which quite possibly they do. If they know their business, in just the touch of their hand there is healing.

Several times in the Gospels, Jesus indirectly refers to himself as a physician (e.g., Matthew 9:12; Luke 4:23). It is a richly touching and suggestive image.

-Originally published in Wishful Thinking and later in Beyond Words

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