Living the Connection, faithfulness of our GodArticles, DC Archive, Living the Connection Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
I am on renewal leave as I write this column. I am, in fact, in South Texas in Edinburg, my home town visiting my mother and extended family, including an uncle who has been in ICU since the beginning of September. For me it is always good to be able to go home. I find myself being re-grounded in family and in faith, and reminded of all that I can be thankful for.
I am splitting up most of my time between sitting with my uncle Rafael and my aunt Irma in the ICU of a local hospital, and time with my mother, Becky. Rafael has had a tracheotomy and cannot speak with his voice but speaks with his eyes. He has been on the brink of death several times in the last few months, but God has been with him. He acknowledges it with a nod and a strong and clear look in his eyes. My aunt has been living in the shadows of death along side my uncle for so long, yet she cannot stop praising God for God’s faithfulness. I have been with them several days and have learned that I should not visit them without a supply of tissue because they make me cry every time, not out of sadness but out of gratitude to God for what God has done for them. They are a testament to God’s goodness and mercy.
This evening I helped my mother with her dinner in a very busy dining room. She now lives in a nursing home and eats her meals at the end of this long and busy dining room, a section set apart for those who need extra help. Between the voices of residents and aids and the clanging of dishes and silverware, it is noisy space. I was becoming somewhat weary of all the commotion when a message I recognized began to arise out of the noise.
Emily who was once a fashion model and whose beauty is still apparent, but whose dementia has left her impaired, was cackling like a chicken; the way she expresses herself these days. Suddenly words came stammering out of her mouth. She said in a loud voice, “Thank you Lord…” A minute or so later the rest of it came – “for food.” Then almost as if inspired by Emily, Teresita who sits across the room and who in her unusually deep voice always cries out that she is dying, broke her rhythmic message of gloom and doom to shout out, “Help me Lord.” She was then quiet, her eyes focused on something unseen to the rest of us as if she were listening to a response coming from a place only she knew. I watched her for a minute and then entered into a brief but interesting conversation with her. She told me her full name, telling me who else shared her first name, and sharing with pride the significance of her last name.
My mother’s meal came at that point and I invited her to pray with me for God’s gifts before us. My mother has advanced Alzheimer’s disease. Sometimes she mumbles in a language we do not understand. Every once in a while she will call out a word or two or a name. She can no longer pray aloud, though in the depths of my memory I can still hear her heartfelt prayers. But when I invite her to pray she closes her eyes in earnest devotion.
These have been days in which I have seen the cruelty of life, but I have also been led to see the faithfulness of our God. I have been reminded that we can face the brokenness of body and mind and even the darkness of death because we are never alone. God, our good shepherd is with us. A simple meal in the middle of the noise and clamor of life, even life that seems short-changed and unfair, can be a feast in the knowledge that God is still with us, and forever the giver of all good gifts.
In this season of Thanksgiving, I pray that God’s faithful presence and goodness will be made manifest for us all. May we be thankful for God’s mercy, share it in ways that heal the hurting hearts and lives of those around us, and never doubt that we serve the One whose mercy, grace and love are abundant and ever faithful.
—Paz, Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
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