Corinthian Fragment

 I was inspired to write this by the writing of Khalil Gibran, a Lebanese poet, who amongst other things wrote: 
“Work is love made visible”
The quote come from the Prophet which is available for free online here
My re-working of a famous passage from the bible often read out at weddings as a description of love can be found here (published in Triple Helix Spring 2014): 
Or below..
I don’t agree with everything that CMF (Christian Medical Fellowship) stand for and I’m not a member, by the way…

If I speak in the language of physicians or of surgeons, but do not have compassion, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the ability to diagnose and can fathom all symptoms and all pathology and if I have a knowledge of evidence-based-medicine that can answer almost any clinical dilemma, but do not have compassion, I am nothing. If I work for a pittance and give all my time to my patients, that I may boast to others of my selflessness, but do not have compassion, I gain nothing.

Compassion is patient, compassion is kind. It does not envy the ability of colleagues, it does not boast of correct diagnoses, it is not proud. It does not belittle patients, it is not self-seeking nor does it just tick boxes, it is not easily angered by lateness, it keeps no record of multiple DNAs. Compassion does not delight in the correct diagnosis but rejoices with the doctor-patient relationship. It always protects the patients’ interests, always trusts in the humanity of interaction, always hopes for the best, often expecting the worse, always perseveres beyond the ten minute appointment.

Compassion should never fail. But where there are primary prevention medicines, they will one day cease; where there are explanations, they will be unnecessary; where there is evidence-based-medicine, it will be superseded. For we know in part and we hope we are aware of what is unknown; but once the syringe driver is set up, the importance of our knowledge shrivels away.

When I was a student, I consulted like a student, I thought like a student, I reasoned like a student. When I became a doctor, I put the ways of childish student life behind me. For now we mostly diagnose illness based on what we can measure; in the future we should aim to view our patients as whole people. What can be measured is only part; I should aim to know them fully, even as I know myself.

And now these three remain: knowledge, consultation skills and compassion. But the greatest of these is compassion.


Be Ready for the Guest’s Return

The doorman of a hotel

Is always dressed in his uniform

And keeps the light on

Waiting for the guests

To return from the theatres

And restaurants

Ready to open the door

The moment they arrive

And ring the bell

For one day the guest of honour

Will return

And reward the alert doorman

With an invitation

Back to his own home

Where he will wait upon him

Who has waited up


A wise person builds his life

On solid beliefs

Though the doubts come in torrents

And the anxieties rise

And the fears beat against him

He won’t collapse

It is built on bedrock

A foolish person builds his life

On shifting lies

When the doubts and anxieties come

And the fears beat against him

He will collapse

With a mighty crash

The Unforgiving Businessman

A local bank manager decided to bring the accounts up to date with all the townspeople who had borrowed money. One of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so the bank manager ordered that he sell his house, his car and liquidate his business so that he could pay the debt.

 But the man broke down in tears before the bank manager and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then the bank manager was filled with pity for him, and wrote off his debt.

But when the man left the bank, he went to a customer who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.

 His customer burst into tears and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But the businessman wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.

 When the other townspeople heard about this, they were very upset. They went to the bank manager and told him everything that had happened. Then the bank manager called in the businessman whose debt he had written off and said, ‘You evil man! I wrote off that massive debt of yours because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your customer, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the bank manager arranged for bailiffs to recover every last penny he was owed by the businessman.

The Shrewd Manager

One day a newspaper reported

That the manager

Of a rock star

Was wasting

His employer’s money

The rock star called him in

‘What’s this I hear about you?

Sort out the last few gigs

Because you are soon to be fired’

The manager thought to himself

‘Now what?

I’m going to be without a job

Without any qualifications

And I’m too proud to beg

Or go on benefits

I’ll have to make sure

That I’ll have plenty

Of friends who will help me out

When I am jobless’

So he invited each venue

Who owed money

And discuss their accounts

He discounted each invoice

And the rock star admired his shrewdness

His use of resources to benefit others

And make friends

The Ten Fans

Ten fans of a pop star

Went to a festival

To try to meet their hero

They took their torches

And waited behind the backstage area

Five of them were foolish

And five were wise

The foolish ones didn’t take spare batteries for their torches

But the other five were wise enough

To take along extra batteries

When the pop star was delayed

They all became drowsy and fell asleep

At midnight they were roused by a shout

‘Look, he’s is coming!

Come out and meet him!’

All the fans got up

And turned on their torches

Then the five foolish ones asked the others,

‘Please give us your spare batteries

Because our torches are fading’

But the others replied

‘We don’t have enough for all of us

Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’

But while they were gone to buy batteries

The pop star came

Those who were ready

Were invited backstage for the concert

And the gate was locked

Later, when the other five fans returned

They stood outside, calling

‘Open the door for us!’

But security said

‘Believe me, he doesn’t know you!

You should have been ready when he came’