I spent the last years of my professional life as a psychologist in Norway, at a healing community the likes of which we have yet to see in the United States. It is called Modum Bad − literally, the baths at Modum − a 19th century spa that in 1957 became a manifold psychiatric center of healing that was designed to embody the integrity of psyche and spirit. Had my wife Leigh not become mortally ill, we would still be there, for it was a gifted environment to teach and continue to learn about human development in ways toward which my training and experience as a psychologist in the U.S. had led me without my knowing.
Leigh was also a psychologist, a researcher and practitioner kin to my work as a teacher and practitioner, so we came as a team, she as director of Modum Bad's Research Institute, I as a professor to patients and staff and ongoing learner of human development, affiliated with the Research Institute (Forskningsinstituttet).
My characterization of our time at Modum Bad is embodied in a monograph I called "Modum Bad: A Resource for Healing and Renewal," available here on Reckonings at http://www.reckonings.net/reckonings/2007/06/modum-bad-a-res.html. The community's own website is available in Norwegian at http://www.modum-bad.no/.
I learned today that my friend Ole Johan Sandvand, director of Modum Bad, who will retire on the first of April, was endowed with Norway's highest honor, membership in the Order of St. Olav, or Sanct Olafs Orden. We in the States have nothing quite like it, but Sanct Olafs Orden is awarded to individuals in Norway as a recognition of remarkable accomplishments on behalf of Norway and humanity. I can only say that it is a recognition he thoroughly deserves for all he has done to realize the deepest mission of Modum Bad as originally conceived, and Modum Bad's ongoing movement as a model of mental health treatment in Norway and in the world. That it bears the name of Saint Olav seems equally fitting for a host of reasons, including Ole Johan's success in uniting the spirit and practice of the hospital, of Sjelesorg, the community's retreat and research center for pastoral life, and of Olavskirken, the lovely small church where he and I worshipped and prayed. The spring of Modum Bad lives and continues to flow, in Ole Johan's life and in the legacy he will have left for those to come.
Ole Johan Sandvand