Monday, July 28, 2008

Getting Old

I have just visited a nearby home for senior citizens.
It is always a privilege to go there, because I receive more than I get. These are people who often have words of encouragement for me; who know how to make light of their problems; and who have a wicked sense of humour.

These are also lonely people who have children living in other countries and whose world has shrunk to the size of “what are we eating for lunch?” and “who is the nurse on duty?” Today was especially lonely for one of the ‘saints’ of the group, because her son in Australia died suddenly over the weekend. She had been eagerly anticipating his visit in October, when he was coming to celebrate her birthday. And now she tells me that she does “not feel like having another birthday”.

So I led a service, where we: sang a hymn (mostly me and one tone deaf lady), prayed for their families, and shared Holy Communion. While I distributed the sacrament two geese wandered in from the garden and carried on a loud conversation at the glass door. I was enjoying the reminder of the beauty of the world I live in, but one of the ladies did not approve – so she grabbed her crutches and shooed them away. They huffed off hissing disapproval while she held her hands out for the bread and wine as if nothing had happened. I wished there was a better connection between the exterior beauty of life, and the interior need for the sacraments.

I leave through the dining room, usually at about 11h30. Lunch is at 12h00 midday, and it is sad to see people sitting at the table in anticipation of the highlight of their day. I grieve a world where people are forgotten because of their frailty and age. But I also salute the courage of those who rise above their circumstances to tell me naughty jokes and ask me how my family are doing. I long for a world where all ages can live together in mutual encouragement

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