The Flying Psychotherapist
A Story With A Difference
We were checking our emails, catching up on correspondence and attention was drawn to a newsletter for May from favourite author Alexander McCall Smith. It contained a story called “The Flying Psychotherapist” [click on the title here to read the complete story].
Like all of McCall Smith’s writing it is beautifully done and flows easily, holding the attention and with purpose, often philosophical or moral to be made. This tale is no exception. It begins,
“This is a story with a difference – the difference being that it is true. It happened in the Australian Outback, that vast swathe of territory that covers the area of several large countries, and that, for all its unforgiving aridity, is a place of great character and fascination. The Outback may be empty in one sense, but in another it is full of life. Not only do the most hardy and adaptable animals live there, but so too do hardy and adaptable people. And these people, with few exceptions, are remarkable characters.”
The author visits a hostelry for lunch in a small outpost near Alice Springs, where he notices that it is busier than he would have expected. The reason is that ‘Doc George’ is flying in for consultations, and the author decides to meet him. If you would prefer to read the complete story, then stop here ... or read on for the concluding part of the story that got our attention:
“I walked down the corridor. The door at the end was ajar, and I knocked and entered. The psychotherapist was sitting behind a table, and in front of him was a chair for the patient. He looked up and smiled.
“A new face.”
I introduced myself. “Look, I’m just passing through. The woman in the bar told me about you and, well, I couldn’t contain my curiosity. I just didn’t believe that there’s a flying psychotherapist.”
He did not seem at all put out by my curiosity. “Not many people know about this service,” he said. “I wish it were more widely publicised. There are a lot of people in these remote communities who would benefit from it. It’s a great pity it’s so little known.”
“So you fly in to deal with people’s …”
He completed the sentence. “With their psychological problems. Yes. I deal with all of that. Phobias. Neuroses. Confidence issues. You name it.”
“But I thought the Flying Doctor was all about saving lives – that sort of thing.”
“It is,” he said. “And my medical colleagues do a great job. They handle that side of things; I handle this.”
I wanted to explore the implications. “So if you’re on a remote cattle station and you suddenly have … have a confidence issue, you fly in?”
He nodded. “Yes. That’s more or less it.” He looked at me. “What’s the trouble, then?”
I wanted to laugh. I wanted to say, ‘The trouble is that I simply can’t believe this’. But I did not say that. Instead, I said, “I suppose I need to move on.” It was a ridiculous, clichéd thing to say; but it just came out.
He nodded. “We all need to move on. You’d be surprised at how often that issue lies underneath the problems that I have to deal with.” He looked at me and I saw his eyes. They were shrewd, understanding eyes – the eyes of one who had seen a great deal of the world’s troubles.
“Here’s my advice to you,” he said. “Don’t forget forgiveness. You have to forgive others, and you have to forgive yourself. The two go hand in hand.”
“Yes,” he said. “Forgiveness is healing. We forget that, especially these days, when we’re so keen to blame others for our misfortunes. We forget the imperative to forgive. Forgiveness allows us to start again. Forgiveness makes it possible for us to look forward rather than backward.”
There was silence. I had come to see this man in a spirit of incredulity; now I felt quite different. Outside, a wind had arisen – a dry, wind from the north, with heat in its breath; the gum trees moved, the sound of the wind in their leaves seeming like the sound of the sea.
“Do you understand what I’ve just told you?’” he asked.
“And is there anybody you haven’t forgiven?”
“There’s always somebody in our past – a parent, a friend, someone we work with; there’s always somebody we need to forgive.” He paused. “Or who may need to forgive you.”
I listened in silence.
“So,” he went on, “go and think about it. And while you’re about it …”
“At this time of year, especially, think about something else. Think about the power of love. It’s remarkable, isn’t it?”
I nodded. He looked at his watch. “All right,” he said. “That’s it. I’ve got one more person to see and then I have to take off.”
I watched his plane climb up into the sky forty minutes later, gleaming white, catching the sun on its wing. Then I set off again, down the track in the direction of Alice Springs. I knew what I had to do.“
“The Hurt and The Healer” - Mercy Me
OSWALD CHAMBERS - RUN TODAY’S RACE
Monday 25th May 2020
Through the Redemption, God undertakes to deal with a man’s past, and He does it in two ways:
by forgiving him, and by making the past a wonderful culture for the future.
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GEORGE and GILL STEWART