In Christie Watson’s new book, The Language of Kindness (which I recommend), she shares her reflections on her nursing career. In it, she says one of the greatest things about the role is that good nursing is about listening to stories. She talks about nurses needing to listen to the patient to try and find out what the needs of that patient are.
Reading her book, and listening to her speak recently in Marlow, I am reminded that Jesus (as recorded in the gospels) didn’t point out facts about people... instead, rather than stating the obvious (such as “Bartimaeus, you are blind”), he engaged with people and asked them questions. That’s partly why he doesn’t say the same thing to each person he heals. Every person has their story and to a great extent that determines who they are.
Nurses, argues Christie Watson, can give far better and holistic care when they understand the patient better. Listening helps them understand their patients. Think of the story of Jesus with the woman at the well in John’s gospel. He may have known all about her, but he asks her questions and respond to her answers with more questions. He makes her feel understood.
But there’s a challenge here. Christie Watson, who used to be a nurse, talks about the pressure of time that nurses have upon them. I don’t think it’s just nurses either. I think (maybe it’s just me?) that it feels that all of us have some sort of time pressures that have grown over the years.
There are questions then for us both as individuals and as a church: Who should we listen to? How do we listen? How do we share what we learn?
If you have any thoughts, share them. Hopefully you’ll find someone to listen!
Take heart, we may find ourselves not only listening to a person, or to Marlow as a town, but also don’t be surprised if what we actually hear is God!