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Today I prayed about nausea. For my patient the day moves slowly and sadly because the pain medication causes nausea. Seeking a calm centre she follows the labyrinth of dots on the the ceiling tiles. She tells me this draws her mind away from ups and downs in her stomach and the flutters in her throat. She also likes it when I visit. One of the few times I am very grateful to be the chatterbox that I know I really am and my patient  insists she finds it calming when I talk. So I must trust her.

I talk about her teenage daughter’s messages, photos of her grandchildren, the warmth of the sun and music to distract her from her nausea. Then as it feels natural we pause together for a minute or so and I offer prayers  seeking to help the the anxiety of her body. I name the stomach and the nausea. I remember the first time I read a prayer (written by Jim Cotter) that spoke of bowels how inspired I was.

I do a lot of visiting of our Gastric units. I seek to know God is there too. In many spiritual reflections Chaplains talk in a general way about the body and spirit connection. But, even we do not often name clearly what we are meaning. I have discovered my patients are so pleased to have their bodies honoured and noticed in prayer. After all their body is preoccupying their thoughts and spirit. We know full well that in illness we canot escape the need for our spirit to carry hope for our bodies. I wonder why our bodies are often side-stepped or glossed over in prayer? I really don’t think God is embarrassed. Questions of the body are part of creation. Separating the body and spirit leads to many concerns about the body in relationship with God. I think Paul  struggles with body and spirit connections, but the fact the struggle is there says something. The centre of the Trinity of our faith is God’s presence in a very human and functioning body. Jesus understood bowels and stomachs. Surely it is healthy for our spirit to pray for the health and healing of our body that carries us?

What do you think? Perhaps share a reflection about body and spirit, or a prayer.

Joanne Davies

About Joanne Davies

I am a Hospital Chaplain in Toronto. I began doing on call work during my Divinity studies. After receiving my M.Div. I completed a year's residency in CPE at St. Michael's hospital. For the past 11 years I have been a Toronto Diocesan Chaplain. I am the Ecumenical Chaplain at Mount Sinai Hospital and the Chaplain at St. John's Rehab. I am also an Anglican priest. And a Trekkie. And a Vegetarian who loves to vacation in Venice Beach, California.
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