River of Life

Comments offered on the occasion of the meeting of the Division of Faith and Health, Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare to close my seven years of my service as Senior Vice President. Gary Shorb, Bobby Baker, Niels French, Teresa Cutts and Donna Tosches offered blessings on my move to Wake Forest University and sent me out to spread the power and spirit of the Memphis Model of faith and health. We exchanges pictures, they giving me Larry Pray’s painting of the Mississippi River Rail Bridge at Sunset and me leaving the photo of the leading causes of life red leaf.
You have given me an astonishing array of gifts. Let me leave this one sixtieth of a second of time and light with you, this picture that I took near my North Georgia cabin that is on the cover the the book, Leading Causes of Life.
This seven years has been life changing. I have experienced as minister, thinker, writer, colleague, executive and Christian all five of the leading causes of life. I began writing that book before coming to Memphis, completed it with Larry Pray in the first year on the Delta and now can testify that life finds a way. And it thrives and spreads when it has a web of trust on which grow like a trellis, bearing fruit of wondrous variety.
This picture holds many meanings. I only realized the complexity of the play of light, color, flow and form once I looked at it back home. Now I see something else is going on in it every time I look at it seven years later. So it is with my blessed experience sharing in the life of this Division, this great healthcare system, this beloved community of Memphis. I am sure I only will appreciate the complexity of what has been going on here in and around our live when I can see it from some distance. But even at first glance, it is beautiful. It has been a blessing and a revelation.
I once quoted Revelations and the fragment of the verse about the “leaves of tree being for the healing of all nations.” I see now the whole passage is true by the great river that flows beneath the bluffs nearby:
“On the side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.” (Revelations 22: 2-5)
It has been so.
Let it be.
Gary Gunderson
June 21, 2012
Center of Excellence in Faith and Health

About garygunderson

Vice President, Faith Health, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC. Author, Leading Causes of Life, Deeply Woven Roots, Boundary Leaders and Religion and the Heath of the Public. Secretary, Stakeholder Health (Health Systems Learning Group).
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