A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dave's Deep Thoughts

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

Life is all about routines.
Most of us depend on routines
to keep our lives and schedules orderly.

We like to sit in the same pews....
We wake up to a specific schedule to get our day started.
We shop at grocery stores where we know the layout.

When routines are broken,
we take notice........usually.

During the summer
as I was building my house,
my mother walked up the hill from her farmhouse.
That may not seem unusual,
except that my mother has Alzheimers.

It has been four or five years since my mom
last came to my house on her own initiative

If you know someone that has Alzheimers,
you know that as they gradually lose control of independent thinking,
they more and more become people of habits

They repeat the same phrases.
They practice the same activities.
They live in the same memories.

So on a beautiful summer afternoon,
as I was installing a window,
I noticed my mom walking up the hill,
carrying a glass.

I thought that it was strange that she was doing this
but I was so preoccupied with my window
that I didn't think much of it.

I was having a difficult installation.
What I expected to be an easy job
was turning out to be an exercise in frustration.
To install the window,
I had to carry it up a ladder.

I had only expected to carry it up once.
It was on my 12th trip up the ladder,
that my mom arrived.

Looks like you're working hard.
Why don't you stop and take a break.

She handed me a glass of iced tea.

That's odd, I thought.
She hasn't done that in years.

She offered to help me with the window project
but there wasn't much to offer an 83 year old Alzheimer patient
when I was dealing with a 12 foot extention ladder
and a 30 pound window.

Why don't you just sit and watch, I suggested.
I could use the company.

What I expected was
the same 2 or 3 questions over and over again,
or the same comment every 2-3 minutes.
I have long since learned the routine.....

Just answer the question,
just reply to the repeated comment.
Don't upset her by correcting her.

The disease has long since robbed her of the ability
to live anywhere but inside the moment.

It was on the 14th trip up the ladder,
that my patience was really being tested....
but not by mom, but by this elliptical window that wouldn't fit.

It was then that I began to realize
that I was having a lucid, normal conversation with my mom.
Not only did she not repeat herself,
but she entered new thoughts into the conversation.
She was connecting the dots....

I had not had a conversation like this with my mom in years.

I realized that on this beautiful summer afternoon,
that for a little while,
I was being given
the gift of the mom that I thought had been lost.

As I struggled with the window,
she tried to help me by steadying the ladder......
despite my protestations.
That was the mom I knew as a child.

As I told her what I was trying to accomplish,
she offered me encouragement.....
That was the mom of my growing up years.

As I finally installed the window successfully,
she cheered me on.
That was the mom who raised me.

Later that evening,
I went down to the farmhouse.
Mom was busy watering her flowers for the 4th time
She asked me if I had been at the church all day.

I smiled and said yes.

Life is about routines.
They give us comfort.
But on a beautiful summer afternoon,
I was given the gift of a mom
who was freed from her routines for a few precious moments....
and I found great comfort in that.

Every good thing bestowed
and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.
James 1:17

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