Priests in their pastoral ministry encounter heart-breaking incidents occurring before what is regarded as a normal life-span: a child with cancer, a road accident, a seriously ill young mother, a bright student struck down. While this may be some preparation, when priests and ministers personally experience serious or terminal illness, they have the additional burden of being in a public role; of needing to manage outward behaviours and inner feelings. They live out the difficult questions which others bring to them, and to which there are no easy answers.
Soul Pain (a term coined by Dame Cicely Saunders) is a moving, articulate and profound series of reflections on the shock, fear, anger, desolation, acceptance that serious illness brings, the choices to be faced and the meaning of healing in such contexts.
Theologically rich and with a depth of wisdom learned at great cost, this book is full of illuminating insights for all who minister to those with life-threatening conditions and those who watch and wait. Essential reading for all in pastoral ministry.
Jennifer Tann is Professor Emerita of Innovation at Birmingham and is a trustee of several charities including Education for Ministry. She is a Bishops' selection adviser, a member of Gloucester Diocesan Synod and Bishop's Council, and General Synod.