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A sorry tale of two public professions

It was a bright Saturday morning and the sun glistened like a jewelled eye. He settled down contentedly behind his desk, happy that after years of bookwork and training he was able to use his knowledge for the benefit of mankind.

That morning he saw people who were so harangued by families and bosses that they had no time to come during the week. He listened, not passively, but purposely and supportively. He nodded sagely, reflected back on their thoughts, mirrored their body language, counselled and advised on their concerns. Some were too ill for him to help and he said he would seek counsel from a higher authority. Others were the worried well and for them he provided hope, a gentle touch and a shoulder to cry on.

After the morning was over, the Reverend straightened the reredos and locked the main doors to the nave. As he stepped out into the street he noticed that the local GP was also leaving work. He waved but the doctor didn't notice him, his face was hooded and full of disappointment, his eyes sullen and fixed to the floor. Around his neck hung a stethoscope, which for a wondrous moment glinted and shone in the sunlight like a radiant crucifix. Sadly, this illusion of salvation was quickly dispelled as the doctor tore it from his shoulders and threw it into the back seat of his car. He then turned his back and trudged off in the direction of the local pub.

From Dr Kevin Hinkley, Aberdeen