A Letter to Kristina as She Graduates as a Physician Assistant

"Nursing the Wounded Commander" by Nikolai Boot (1928-1998) 1952. Russian.

“Nursing the Wounded Commander” by Nikolai Boot (1928-1998) 1952. Russian.

My Beloved Kristina,

I just wrote your sister as she became a nurse and now I write to you! I do not write to somehow equal out my congratulations, but I write out of the overflow of love, prayer, and excitement for you and for all of us who will receive your ministry of healing. But I, also, want to write you as your loving and proud Poppy. I want to give you something personal that will, possibly, speak into your life. I want to give you encouragement.

I would encourage you to use your healing gifts as an extension of the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ alive inside of you.

Cultivate those healing gifts He has entrusted to you through a life of prayer. You have studied so hard and spent your time so wisely. Consider, now, how you might cultivate a deep life of personal worship. Read the Scriptures, seek Jesus in the text—wherever you are in the Bible—and, then, meditate on Him, whispering the awe and love of your heart to Him, and praying the portion of Scripture back to the Lord.

Cultivate those healing gifts from heaven (for your sense of calling, as well as the education, and practical experience of medicene are all divine gifts) through looking for Him in the lives of others. Dr. John Kavanaugh, a Catholic priest, an ethicist and professor at Saint Louis University, reflected on his transformative experience of a 1975 sabbatical he took in Calcutta with Mother Theresa.

‘She sat right down next to this man and took his face in her hands,’ Kavanaugh said. ‘His eyes opened, and she was able to engage him in a way we had been unable to do.’ There was something else remarkable about the scene. It reminded Kavanaugh of something he had witnessed while saying daily Mass at the Sisters’ motherhouse. ‘When Mother Teresa started feeding (the dying man), it struck me that it was just like the way she received communion.’[1]

We know from Mother Theresa’s writings that she believed she saw Jesus in the eyes of the others. That speaks to what I pray for you: to seek our Lord Jesus in the lives of those you care for. This is not only an act of worship to the Lord Jesus, but has the powerful effect of ensuring that patients never become mere commodities and medicine never becomes an emotionless transaction—both being a perennial challenge for those of us who spend our lives ministering to people.

Kristina, I would, finally, encourage you to cultivate the healing gift you have been given through diligent self-care. The past preparation for this ministry of medicine is, I believe, an indicator of the way you will steward your career. That indicator points to continued diligence, expected hard work, with the possibility of giving everything, over and over again, for the sake of others. This is good, but without personal parameters can become painful. Be intentional about caring for yourself in order to care for others. Steward your life as a gift of gratitude to your Creator. See your life in seasons. Some goals grow best in Spring. Others need the quite rest of winter. Live life and minister medicene in seasons, not all at once. Recognize that stewarding your life in each of those seasons is best done by attention to the responsibility controllers before you: spiritual disciplines, relationships, intellectual discovery, professional growth in your field, and caring for the temple of the Lord, your physical body. As you practice self-care you will extend the season of growth in your career.

So as you cultivate the gift of healing through private prayer, serving Christ by seeking His life in the lives of the broken, and through intentional self-care, I believe you graduate from being a healthcare provider to becoming something infinitely deeper and more satisfying for all:  you will become a healer. And a healer is a living gift of God’s love in our midst. Yes, I pray that you will be a healer.

Know of my love, my joy, my prayers for you, and a sense of admiration that continues to grow. Always assured that I remain

Your Loving Poppy

[1] Clayton Berry, “Jesuit Philosopher Recounts Time with Mother Teresa,” Free Republic, September 17, 2007, Religion section, accessed May 22, 2015, http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1898079/posts.

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