Thursday, February 3, 2011

Moments of Grace

Patricia Lindholm, MD,
2010-2011 MMA President
In January, I was a guest at the Zumbro Valley Medical Society’s annual meeting.  Because I live five hours away from Rochester I checked into a local hotel to spend the night after the meeting.  Subsequently I had two consecutive days off for travel. 
The meeting was an elegant affair with award presentations, a fine meal and an excellent talk given by Sanne Magnan, M.D., the former Minnesota Commissioner of Health.  My hosts were extremely gracious.  The awardees were all inspiring individuals which caused me to ask myself, “So what have I done with my life?” 
Don’t get me wrong.  I know as a physician my work helps people every day and is meaningful.  I am also in a leadership position in my state medical association.  These are facts.  However, internally there is often discord between fact and conviction. My own faulty wiring at work, I suppose.
During a period of socializing at the meeting I was approached by Harriett Hodgson, former president of the MMA Alliance.  She is an accomplished journalist and author.  She came to present me with her most recent book, “The Spiritual Woman.”  What a gift!  She has a beautiful introduction about the many varieties of meditation and their value and usefulness.  The book also includes a collection of inspiring quotations that can be used as the basis for a daily meditation.  I knew that this gift was a moment of grace.  Perhaps my encouragement of an open discussion of physician wellbeing has significance after all.  Indeed this gift was nourishment for the soul.
The experience also reminded me that in medical practice we are presented with moments of grace more often than we recognize: the gratitude of a patient who takes the time to write a card; the sincere “thank you” from a person who felt heard and cared for; the affection that develops when we care for patients over many years, and the hugs from children or from the elderly.  These are priceless. 
On days when we are discouraged and wonder whether we ought to have chosen a less stressful career, we are likely to have had a moment of grace somewhere, if we only had eyes to see it and the sense to appreciate it.

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