Science has unfolded many layers that surround what were, in centuries past, the mysteries of pathologies and treatment. Solidarity permits human knowledge and learning to be shared, and Solidarity Bridge structures its missions to do just that. Mentored surgeries and coursework permit what was initially unknown to a doctor to become part of his or her skills set -- and ultimately benefit patients.
A neurosurgeon, whose discernment, dexterity and calming presence in the operating room has won the respect of colleagues in Bolivia, mentioned to me on mission that every surgery has the potential for good and for harm. An advocate for access to surgeries globally, he approaches the role of the surgeon abroad with utmost care. Willing to operate under developing world conditions, he aims to expand access to equipment and training to ensure safety for all patients. He meticulously seeks clues in magnetic images, unravels the mysteries of failing equipment, establishes surgical strategies, and expertly teaches less experienced surgeons to mitigate risks.
He knows that medicine and human life is much more than a puzzle. Charged time and again with discussing the reality of our mortality with patients and their families -- and capable of doing that with compassion -- he mentions a deep desire to contemplate life’s mysteries even further.
Our faith teaches us that there is indeed mystery. Francis explains that mercy will take us to the unknowable. From the heart of the Trinity, he says, from the depths of the mystery of God, the great river of mercy wells up and overflows unceasingly. It is a spring that will never run dry, no matter how many people draw from it. Every time someone is in need, he or she can approach it, because the mercy of God never ends.
As this Jubilee Year of Mercy comes to a close, I can say with certainty that my first year with Solidarity Bridge has been extraordinary. I give thanks, knowing that the opened doors will not close. As Francis teaches us, the profundity of the mystery surrounding mercy is as inexhaustible as the richness which springs up from it.
Casting Open the Doors of the Heart: Lessons Learned in a Jubilee Year of Mercy is a five-part blog series written by Mary McCann Sanchez, Senior Director of Programs. Mary joined the Solidarity Bridge staff in September 2015, and has been on six trips to Bolivia during her first year.
All citations of the words of Pope Francis are from the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy.