Cure versus Healing

The snow was falling gently.  The rest of the family was wearing pajamas.  It was the perfect lazy Saturday morning at home.

So it took considerable will power to bundle up, get in my car, and drive to Green Lake Bible Camp for five hours of Thriving and Serving in the Name of Christ, a “conversation about living well” led by a representative from Portico, formerly the ELCA Board of Pensions.  Are you jealous yet?

Well, you maybe should be, because: it was a great day!  The roads were not too slippery, the blueberry muffins were delicious, and the workshop was refreshing.  I even made it home for the tail end of nap time!  That, my friends, is a win-win.

We got a handy dandy notebook to use during the workshop, and one of my favorite pages bore the heading “Cure versus HEALING” (all caps not mine, of course).  It was a list adapted from Cure versus Healing by Frederick W. Reklau.  Here it is:

1. Cure may occur without healing; healing may occur without cure.

2. Cure separates body from soul; healing embraces the whole.

3. Cure isolates; healing incorporates.

4. Cure costs; healing enhances.

5. Cure combats sickness; healing fosters wellness.

6. Cure fosters function; healing fosters purpose.

7. Cure alters what is; healing offers what might be.

8. Cure is an act; healing is a process.

9. Cure acts upon another; healing shares with a sister, a brother.

10. Cure manages; healing touches.

11. Cure seeks to conquer pain; healing seeks to transcend pain.

12. Cure avoids grief; healing assumes grief.

13. Cure encounters mystery as a challenge for understanding; healing encounters mystery as a channel for meaning.

14. Cure rejects death and views it as defeat; healing includes death among the blessed outcomes of care.

On a day when my back was still slowly recovering from whatever terrible thing I did to it, in the new reality where my dad has kidney cancer and heart failure, this list really resonated with me.  (But don’t worry–my back is almost better and my dad is doing great!  He is just about back to having a more active social life than Mike and I do, which is maybe not as impressive as it might be, but still.  He’s cooking and going to the movies and the symphony and generally feeling like a human being again–it’s wonderful.)

Let me be clear: in  many ways, I am all for the cure.  A cure for cancer / Alzheimer’s / Insert Disease Name Here?  Yes, please.  Sometimes, what we most long for is something that will “alter what is”.

But when there is no cure, I hold fast to the idea that healing is still possible.  Wellness, purpose, and meaning are still possible.   And death is not defeat.  Amen, amen.


Filed under Ministry Matters

5 responses to “Cure versus Healing

  1. Nice list!

    This very topic was part of the theory I learned in my Parish Nurse Course. I wrote about healing as being the same as Shalom and defined it as, “Moving people closer to glorifying God by living in right relationship with God, with self, with others and with the rest of creation…” (That definition isn’t original. It comes from the book When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Yourself).


    • I like that definition! We talked at the workshop about healing as accompaniment / walking with people, which I think is right in line with what you’re talking about. The workshop leader was also a former parish nurse coordinator!


  2. Bobbi

    I always enjoy you, your thoughts and your skills at blogging! It was great to see you – healing, in fact!!


  3. Yes, that is so true, cure vs healing. Some times we get both, sometimes we hang on through healing. Every day is a gift, and when we run out of days a new place awaits. 🙂


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