Hello, how are you?
It’s the usual way we tend to greet people, and be greeted by others.
Usually, the response is something like “Fine, thanks - how are you?”
even when we’re not in exactly in the pink. We don’t really expect a
detailed health report. I have to admit that, a long time ago, I had a
colleague whom I learned never to greet in this way. The question “How
are you?” would elicit a long list of symptoms and complaints, enough to
fill a medical encyclopaedia! I started greeting her simply by saying
“Hello, it’s nice to see you.”
Please don’t think that I don’t care about people’s health - I really do. But it was always the
same with this lady; she just went on and on about all the things that were wrong with her, in
fact she seemed to wallow in them in quite a self-centred way. Conversely, we all know people
with quite serious medical problems who manage to be amazingly cheerful, and try to make
light of their difficulties.
I think we would all agree on the importance of our health and wellbeing. Since our daughter
went to live in the USA, we’ve become much more conscious of how blessed we are in this
country to have the NHS. It is something to be profoundly thankful for.
I love watching TV programmes about health issues, such as “Trust me, I’m a doctor” and have
recently been astounded and humbled by the skills and dedication displayed by health
professionals in “Surgeons: At the Edge of Life.” James and I are both pretty squeamish, so
we’ve had to watch the latter with our eyes shut a lot of the time. We are just so grateful for
the people who carry out these life-saving operations, often working under unimaginable
pressure for hours and hours on end.
Last week (13 - 19 May) was Mental Health Awareness Week, and I’ve also found the TV
programmes broadcast in connection with that compelling and moving. Conditions such as
those explored - anxiety, panic attacks, psychosis and depression - can affect any of us at any
time. It’s good that people are being encouraged to talk openly about such problems, which I
am sure is a great help in itself, and that mental illness is no longer stigmatised to the extent
that it once was.
Earlier this year, I attended a study day on Christian Spiritual Healing at Norwich Cathedral, led
by the Revd Dr Gillian Straine, Director of the Guild of Health and St Raphael. I was very
impressed and felt inspired to focus more on our ministry of healing here at St Andrew’s. The
gospels are full of stories of miraculous healings performed by Jesus, and at my licensing
service, among the symbols of ministry presented to me was a bottle of oil for the anointing
of the sick. We now devote part of our monthly service of Evensong to a time of healing, when
we pray for individuals by name, and people may receive anointing for themselves or on behalf
of others. You would be very welcome at this, and indeed at all of our services. If you would
like us to pray for you or for a loved one, don’t hesitate to tell us!