Surely Goodness and Mercy: A Journey Into Illness and Solidarity
Open Door Community, Apr 30, 2020
Surely Goodness and Mercy: A Journey into Illness and Solidarity is a narrative account of Murphy Davis' 25-year battle with cancer. For 14 years before the cancer first struck and throughout most of her surgeries and treatment, she lived in the Open Door Community, a residential community in downtown Atlanta, founded with her husband, Ed Loring in 1981. Both Davis and Loring are ordained Presbyterian ministers and practice the discipline of seeking deeper solidarity with the poor and marginalized. As the cancer time and again threatened to bring death, Davis engaged the public health care system-first through nine years of treatment at Grady Hospital (Atlanta's public hospital and primary health care delivery for the poor) and another 16 years at Emory's Cancer Center on Medicaid for the Disabled. Through this lens, Murphy Davis has considered the theological and political dimensions of illness and access to care; she has grown into an ever-deeper solidarity with the homeless poor who continued to gather and persistently prayed and cared for her and her family. The men and women on Georgia's death row, to whom Davis had been a pastor 18 years when she was first struck down was owned by her convicted companions as "one of us," as they realized that she too was living under a sentence of death. The journey has brought reflections on Biblical theology and what it means to truly face and engage death. After 25 years, Murphy Davis is still alive and able to tell her story, thanks to the persistent care of committed doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, and family and friends (known and unknown) who have accompanied her, cared for her and prayed her through it all. She lives in deep gratitude and asserts the truth that "Goodness and Mercy have run after me all of my days."