Thank you to reader AH who pointed out to me, after reading the recent article about Pontifex University’s Dr Michel Accad, Hope for Catholic Healthcare, that there is scientific research that backs up the idea that beauty and spirituality aid physical healing, not just mental health. It was hearing of such research in regard to meditation taking place in cardiac wards that inspired me to start a regular Vespers group in the Veteran’s Hospital in Manchester NH. You can read about it here in Send Out the L-Team, Making a Sacrifice of Praise for American Veterans. The L in the title, by the way stands for liturgy.
Here is another link that AH gave to me, about how the beauty of gardens aids healing. How Hospital Gardens Help Patients Heal.
What is interesting in all the research about gardens, transcendental meditation and public policy on this is that the engagement between the beauty or spirituality is always passive. All policies assume that there is no underlying, objective truth, it simply rests in the personal beliefs of the patient, which are purely subjective. I do not propose aggressive evangelization that makes cures conditional upon accepting Christ, for example (if that were possible). However, if the underlying assumption were of objective truth and that spiritual therapies might work because they are true, then a greater harmony of science and faith will be possible in which the possibility of a health community that not only restores, but also offers ongoing support that maintains health is more likely. There is no contradiction in maintaining human freedom and presenting as a health choice faith based support groups, for example, that assume that Christian practices rest in fullest expression of truth; and that they work because God exists and loves us.
Furthermore, this suggests to me that the greatest potential for health care delivery that has the patients genuine health at its core is one that works in harmony with the free choices of patients in every respect, including those aspects of health care upon which a price can be placed. This is why I feel opening of the free market would be preferential to a single -payer government system.
Furthermore, a care system that is founded in Christian tradition would not only for more beautiful hospitals, it might allow for better and more powerfully healing gardens. You can make your mind up, but here is an ‘award winning’ modern garden in Maryland
And here is the garden in the museum of a medieval cloistered garden at the museum of the Order of St John in London. I ask you, where would you rather be after open heart surgery (other things being equal?).
And here is a garden in a former city hospital in Barcelona, below.