Monday, October 1, 2007

Reverence

Sometimes you just need to step back and look at your situation from a different perspective.

Last weekend I saw a fantastic film:
In the Shadow of the Moon. I highly recommend that you go see it if you haven't already. It's a documentary about the Apollo space missions, launched by NASA between 1968 and 1972. The never-before-seen footage was amazing -- incredible!

Alongside the NASA footage were stories directly from the astronauts. I truly enjoyed watching and listening to them as they described what the experience was like for them. One of my favorite astronauts was the eloquent Jim Lovell. He was able to express with such clarity the epiphany he had in space -- that of connection to everything in existence. We're all just a bunch of atoms, after all. He added:
Just from the distance of the Moon you can hide the Earth behind your thumb, everything that you have ever known; your loved ones, your business, the problems of the Earth itself, all behind your thumb; it makes you consider how insignificant we really are; but then how fortunate we are to have this body and to be able to enjoy living here amongst the beauty of the Earth itself.
What Lovell said struck a cord in me because I had a similar experience during college. The more I learned about biochemistry and molecular biology, the more I grew in awe of Life.

[Leap]

During this Sunday's sermon, "The Practice of Reverence," Rev. H, defined reverence as "fundamentally, a deep respect; an attitude of awe and wonder and gratitude for something of high or ultimate value." As soon as he said this, I realized that this is partly what lead me to medicine.

The complexities of the body (how it develops, how its organ systems function, how it processes food, how it fights infection and disease, how it can turn against itself, etc.) are fascinating to me. I know I like to complain at times about the lack of sleep and social life during medical school, but when I really dive into the work and I'm "making the connections," I feel fortunate. I get to see and understand a whole other world that allows me to feel connected, on some level, to everyone around me. We're all the same; our bodies are all made up of the same stuff.

Rev. H, closed his sermon with the following quote by Henry David Thoreau: "Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence." I believe that medicine is that path for me.

2 comments:

Sid Schwab said...

Very nice. How wonderful it would be if everyone on the planet -- at least the ones leading us from all directions toward the same ruin -- could get perspective from as far away as the moon, or as close up as the workings of our bodies.

DC Med Student said...

Amen!