HomedotMagisReflectionsA Week of Gratitude: Health Care

A Week of Gratitude: Health Care

Week of GratitudeEditor’s note: This week we celebrate a pre-Thanksgiving Week of Gratitude, with Loyola Press authors sharing reflections on gratitude each day.I’m laboriously prepping for a medical procedure. After yet another form asking me for my mailing address, I get a bit grumpy. Why can’t they just look at one of the other 8,000 places I wrote it down?

And then—out of nowhere—I remember the Ireng River. Months ago, my work led me to Karasabai, a remote Jesuit outpost deep in the interior of Guyana, South America. One morning, I accompanied a man suffering with untreated diabetes. His pain had gotten so bad that they sent word to a “nearby” Brazilian hospital across the River Ireng. The hospital said they would send an ambulance to the banks of the river. In the village’s only vehicle, we drove him to the river so that we could paddle him across to the waiting ambulance. But when we arrived, there was no one there. After waiting for over an hour, the group drove the suffering man back home. They would try again later.

Back here in the first world, I am prepping for my procedure which I routinely do because, years ago, doctors found pre-cancerous polyps inside me. Had they not found them, I probably would have died of cancer in my forties.

And so, pass me another medical form and forgive me for my grumpiness. The River Ireng, separating a good man from even basic medical care, reminds me that I’m privileged. The memory humbles me, but also leads me to gratitude.

Mark Thibodeaux, SJ
Mark Thibodeaux, SJ
Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ, has served as novice director, spiritual director, and high school campus minister for over 30 years. He has authored many popular books on prayer and spirituality, including God’s Voice Within and Reimagining the Ignatian Examen. He lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he serves as pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Church and School.


  1. Fr. Mark, I just read “Reimagining the Ignatian Examen”. Thank you for the little miracle of healing that happened. God worked through your words to give me the grace needed to heal a close relationship. God used you in an amazing way!

  2. A prayer I wrote and recently emailed to the Creator as I reflected on my own similar circumstances – thank you for your post. I call it “A Prayer from an Uncertain Place”
    Often, when I come to meet with YOU –
    I feel as though I’m on uncertain ground.
    Rather like I’m trying to balance myself –
    On that fallen and unsteady tree –
    Tilted downward,
    Slippery from the mist of the stream’s rapids,
    I see YOU just beyond the waters edge –
    Sitting, waiting,
    Your gaze upon me,
    Encouraging me to take that next tentative step.
    My unsteadiness –
    Comes from so many places these days-
    My aging body,
    The uncertainties of the future,
    Of how to best serve
    Those whom I love.
    My failure to keep focused
    On YOUR blessings,
    Help me today to place my trust in YOU.
    Help me see how BEST –
    To proceed-
    Inspire me and make me grateful –
    With YOUR encouraging GAZE
    Guide my steps …
    To more certain ground.
    Thank you.

  3. Hi Fr Mark — Sorry you’re going thru a medical procedure. That’s never fun for anyone. My sister is in the same boat with a bevy of tests and I know how she feels about it. Hope the results will give you much to be thankful for. Your book on the EXAMEN has helped me a lot and I read a little of it every day. I’ll remember you in my daily prayers.

  4. Just stumbled upon this post today (Thursday). Promise to keep all who will undergo medical procedures on Friday in my prayers. May God bless and keep you.

  5. If everyone in America could be as blest as you who are commenting; wouldn’t that we GREAT!
    I Live in Australia and have just spent well over an hour to see Dr for about 8 minutes, for something that I have had for at least five months, I have v excellent health cover… The beat goes on! Then I read about the poor soul in the jungle. So I thank God that at least everyone in Australia gets to see a Dr even if they don’t have health cover! God Bless Australia! I remember hearing about people dying in the street in U.S.A. years ago, because they could not afford Blue Cross (?) or something. Supposedly the wealthiest country in the world (At that stage) Dear Sweet Jesus please look after the poor! I will now stop whining and keep praying. A.M.D.G. By the way Blest is still a verb! Blessed is something different. English?!?

  6. Fr. Mark,
    We live just out of Grand Coteau. I taught at St. Ignatius for 14 years. What a beautiful place we live and worship in. I too, have a surgical procedure to do on Friday, and thought the same things about all of the forms to fill, both online and hard copies. Thank God, as you said, that we are able to do those, and to have such good care. I needed to hear what you had to say. I was given your book, Armchair Mystic, but haven’t been able to really read it yet!

  7. This reminds me to be thankful that a specialist can see me soon for spine difficulties and even to offer the pain for the pain of others who aren’t this blessed.

  8. Yeah, I think that’s really good. I think of this so often, we are so lucky. Not only receiving the world’s best care but also so much preventative care that provides peace of mind. And so often we go in and out with a result that provides relief and allows us to resume normal lives while others sitting beside us in the waiting room are not so lucky in receiving good news.

  9. Greetings, Fr. Mark:
    I’m scheduled for 3 eye related events at my hospital on Friday. I was getting crabby because the to do lists are contradictory. Thank you for what my peeps refer to as a “dope slap” aka a moment of grace and gratitude.

  10. So beautifully put. May all go well for you! I think of those who may remain uninsured here, and all who may end up that way. I think of those around the world who can’t just make a call and fill out a form. God have mercy.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Loretta Pehanich
Marina Berzins McCoy
Tim Muldoon