Basinga Article November 2013 - A Picture of Health


The blight of Man Flu is a serious danger at this time of year. All over the country, husbands are croaking plaintively to their wives that the affliction they are bearing with such courage and stoicism would have hospitalised a lesser man, and prescribing themselves a day in bed  with nothing but three gallons of Covonia, a hot toddy and the West Wing box-set to sustain them as they lie at death’s door.

Indeed, even as I write, the Vicarage has undergone its first bout of contagion, and there will no doubt be more as the children bring home microbes that they have swapped and shared with their friends at school.


All this illness puts me in mind of St Luke, whose feast was celebrated on 18th October. He is the patron saint of artists and doctors (indeed tradition has it that he was himself both a painter and a physician) and this seems to me a fascinating juxtaposition.


In our own age we like to make careful distinctions between disciplines, and divide people between their various specialisms. St Luke, however, by pulling these two together, invites us both to consider their similarities, and to consider the wholeness of the human condition.


We might suppose at first glance that there could be no two activities less well aligned than Art and Medicine. The one intangible, imaginative and intuitive, the other scientific, deductive, and prescriptive. Yet I suspect that this is not necessarily the case. On the one hand, Art requires immense precision, a lot of hard-earned technical knowledge, and a great deal practise before one can really say one is proficient.


On the other hand, medicine, judging from the comments of my doctor friends, is far more a question of gut-feeling and rule-of-thumb than one might credit. Just as the artist feels around for just the right brushstroke, or weighs colours against each other to achieve the desired effect, so also the physician expertly discerns symptoms, and experiments with possible treatments. In short, both are concerned with careful perception, and precise response.


I think they are connected on a deeper level too, since they are both, at heart, creative. From a Christian perspective, each in its own way is a kind of co-operation with the work of God, as He brings the world to completion and perfection through Jesus Christ. God invites us and all creation to come and be healed, made whole, and we are all invited to involve ourselves using the various gifts he has given us.


As we cough and sneeze our way through the winter months, it will do us no harm to consider not only our own well-being, but how our words and deeds contribute to the health of others, and the wider world.


God Bless,                                                   Fr Alec