Monday, May 23, 2011

Fostering Life

Today I spent some time with a congregation member who recently moved into a nursing facility for those dealing with dementia. The last time I saw her was before the move and she was looking drawn, sad and seemed very confused. Today when I walked in a smile spread across her face and she said, "There's my minister." While it was probably the case that she could not remember my name, I was pleasantly surprised that she recognized me at all.

In the small room she now occupies she is surrounded by her belongings and pictures of family and friends. The nursing staff that stopped by during my visit were very pleasant, seemed glad to meet me, and expressed joy at knowing my congregation member. She told stories of jokes, fun times, and field trips she has already shared with fellow residents and members of the staff.

During the time that we spent together she barely stopped talking. She was more full of joy than I had ever seen her. It seems clear that the place where she currently lives is a place that is life-giving. At one point during our conversation she referred to a friend who "also has Alzheimer's, just like me." I was particularly pleased to hear that there was no shame associated with her diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. It was just a fact of life that wasn't going to stop her from living.

This visit definitely gave me hope. (Isn't it often the case that we go with the intent to give something to someone else and end up walking away having received a gift?) That all places ~ our homes, our churches, our care-giving facilities ~ could be places that foster life. What a world that would be!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Places You End Up

When the path to your goal is narrow
and the way is easy to lose,
may all the places you end up
be just as interesting.

~ Steve Garnaas-Holmes

I subscribe to Rev. Steve Garnaas-Holmes blog "Unfolding Light" and am often moved by the reflections he shares. The above is part of today's reflection. I love the second part of the sentence; "may all the places you end up be just as interesting."

I feel like I am on the path of a goal, or at least the path of a dream. The way does feel winding and narrow, and I have ended up in some unexpected places contemplating some unexpected things. While I could not foresee that I would end up in the places I have as yet, they have been interesting and my perspective has been broadened. Perhaps this is another way of saying that the journey is often more important than the destination.

And sometimes the places you end up are even more interesting than the places you intended to go.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Nicky's Stone

Last fall we said good-bye to our beloved Border Collie, Nicky. Since then we've all missed Nicky a lot. While we wouldn't wish him back in the condition he was in, we remember those joyful times when he was a younger pup who enjoyed walks, playing and treats!

After Nicky died we brought his ashes to Empire Grove where we sprinkled them on the ball-field where he enjoyed running around. Nicky had lots of good times at Empire Grove. My favorite remembrance of Nicky at the campground is of him running beside my Dad as Dad drove along on the golf cart. The first time I remember realizing Nicky was getting old was when he could no longer keep up with the golf cart as Dad sped around the circle.

With Nicky's ashes at Empire Grove (where my Dad's ashes are as well), we decided we wanted to have a remembrance of Nicky we could keep at home. We placed this stone (Vermont granite) in our garden last weekend. (The garden looks a little sparse now, but will soon be in blossom!) It is a good size stone, but small enough for us to take with us when we move so "Nicky" can always be part of our garden! It is placed near an iris which was Nicky's 'flower.' Every year we took his picture next to the yellow iris at our parsonage in Connecticut. Nicky will feel right at home here.