This year, 2018, we celebrate the Centenary of the Christian Medical College, Vellore. For those who live and work in CMC Hospital and College, life is a busy routine of activities – whether one is a doctor, nurse, allied health worker or one of the many clerical and service staff. There is very little time for deep soul – searching moments. Even less time for discussion. Whoever you are, it is good to stop and think for a moment. This is the place where you spend the most number of hours during a day. How do you spend those hours? Do they rush by leaving you tired and worn out, or do you see or do something every day to refresh and inspire you?
Dr Ida Scudder, the founder of the hospital and college could not have imagined that the little hospital she once started, along with a training programme for nurses, and a medical college for women would, in a hundred years, have grown into this magnificent citadel of medical education and care.
Towards the end of Dr. Scudder’s life, the writer Dorothy Clarke – Wilson came to India to spend some time with her to record her conversations and memories. This later became a valuable biography of Ida Scudder, and of her vision and service. Looking at the imposing buildings, the bustle of activity in the hospital contrasting with the peaceful expanse of landscaped gardens in the college, and hearing about the new rural programmes, the mental health centre and the leprosy hospital in Karigiri, Dorothy Clarke – Wilson asked Dr Scudder, “Don’t you feel great satisfaction when you look around you at all this and remember how it all started?”
One would imagine that Dr Scudder would have felt great pride, and an immense sense of fulfillment at what she had achieved over the years. But instead she looked at her friend and said, “God has been very good to me.” Dorothy was both surprised and very moved by this response. She had expected some expression of pride, or at least excitement, that all this had been achieved despite early hurdles and disappointments. But no! Dr Scudder looked around….and again she said, “God has been very good to me.”
This phrase, and Dr Scudder’s attitude to the value of service is something we need to be reminded of as we begin a new year, and especially as we celebrate a hundred years of service – oriented training. We could so easily become self-obsessed with our own achievements…….. the patients we heal, the papers we publish, the research we do, and the recognition and awards that sometimes come our way. We may start thinking, “I did this!”, forgetting those who toiled and sacrificed behind the scenes to make our dream become a reality.
Let us learn to look at our work and our lives through Dr Scudder’s eyes and feel through her heart. To remember that every achievement of ours is a sign of God’s gracious goodness to us. When we look at our successes and accomplishments this way we become both immensely grateful and humbled.
Usha Jesudasan is a writer who lives in Vellore and has had a close relationship with CMC for over 4 decades. For many years she wrote the weekly meditation Let’s Think Together for CMC. She is the author of several books. Her two bestselling books are I Will Lie Down In Peace ( the story of her young family’s confrontation with illness and death) and Two Journeys (the journeys two women have to take when cancer enters their lives). She is also the co – author of Living In Harmony, a graded series of Peace and Values Education books for children from Class 1-10.