Building Bridges: ISH as a Conduit Between Houston and the TMC
By Stuart Nelson
October 9th, 2013
With its complex of world-class institutions, The Texas Medical Center emphasizes just how incredible medicine in the 21st century can be. The TMC, no doubt, is an inspiring place because of its size and the nature of its work.
It is important to remember, though, that this grand complex is situated in other, larger fabrics. First of all, it is not simply an isolated hub of innovation. Instead, it sits at the heart of the fourth largest and the most culturally and ethnically diverse city in America. Houston is a place where cultures and religious traditions comingle. Beyond that, the TMC is located in the even larger fabric of American healthcare – a fabric where innovation is constant and inspiration can be found at every turn.
In many ways, ISH is a bridge between the medical center and the wider culture of Houston’s community. We are not a medical organization – we don’t treat patients on the front lines of healthcare. Similarly, we are not a spiritual or religious organization – we don’t have religious services or a congregation. Instead, we act as a bridge between the world of spirituality and the world of healthcare. Perhaps even more importantly, we are here to teach individuals how to build their own bridges between these worlds. Central to this is the ability to leverage the resources in the community around us and link them to the amazing work being done here at the TMC.
It is for this reason that collaboration is at the very core of our mission. Without the diverse cultural and religious landscape around us, we would be hollow. With this in mind, we bring the best physicians in the medical center together with and the most profound spiritual teachers from our community. We bring the wisdom of the great traditions directly to the technically proficient and precise world of western medicine. We want to immerse those we serve in the waters of these converging rivers so that they are able to wake up to the fact that our spiritual lives and communities of cannot be responsibly or reasonably separated from our individual and collective health.
In other ways, and with increasing rigor, ISH acts as a bridge between innovators here in the TMC and those in other parts of the country. The most obvious example of this is our upcoming collaboration with the University of Chicago, with whom we are co-sponsoring a Medicine and Religion Conference – an event that will be attended by people from across the country. We know that there is amazing work being done on issues of spirituality and health across the country, and we want to be the organization that uncovers powerful collaborative opportunities that will enrich the work we do locally.
It has been my pleasure to watch real, productive communication happen between people who may never have interacted if it wasn’t for our focus and insistence on educating and equipping people to understand the role that spirituality can play in health and healing. Organizations, congregations, and communities have been built on the bedrock of spirituality and, likewise, the TMC is a testament to the importance that our society places on health and well-being. Why should these worlds exist in isolation? ISH sees boundless opportunities to engage in collaboration with those who share our interests and who are willing to break convention by building bridges between our worlds of knowledge rather than isolating them.
Stuart Nelson is the Project Manager for the ISH. He uses his formal training in both the sciences and the humanities to creatively plan programs, organize services, and assist with the ISH online presence and tech needs, as well as to serve in administrative capacities. You can read more about Stuart HERE.