It’s a mixed bag, this thing called life. A constant climb to maintain some sense of worth without becoming self-centered; Seeking dignity without becoming tangled in pride. And then there’s dementia.
Yesterday I prayed for God to reveal His wonder to me in a new way. It’s not that I’ve lost that loving feeling, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. The trouble with me is that I’ve grown so used to His constant Presence that I sometimes fail to recognize the miniscule in the miraculous that is my life. I’ve seen so many unbelievable things, experienced unspeakable joy, watched waves of mercy crash around me, felt the oil of heaven pour over grief, soaked in grace upon grace upon grace until it is tangibly thick Love surrounding me – honestly, I expect wonder as the norm.
So, in an attempt to awaken to the wonder of God and be wonder struck – I was challenged to “snap a photo of beauty” when an email from Margaret Feinberg popped in my phone before my alarm went off this morning. Where did I find that wonderous beauty? It was a fleeting moment in my morning routine as a caregiver in a dementia and Alzheimer’s care facility (named Grace Village if you can believe that!)
Dementia can steal your peace and today I witnessed a breaking heart attached to a confused mind in a moment of desperation. One of our residents was having a hard time coping with the separation from her loved ones due to the progression of her condition. Her whole life she has been active and involved and surrounded by husband and kids and activity. But today she was alone. She was alone with her confusion, her loneliness, her inabilities, her lack of control of her mind and body. She was aware of her humanity, her brokenness, her longing for relationship, her need to be valued and to be beautiful.
While it would have been easy to look outside at the end of the rocky mountain chain that borders my town and see a spectacular sunrise, snap a picture and call it beautiful, that is not where God chose to show me His wonder today. It was in a moment in an old woman’s bedroom in the midst of her disgust. It was in His Word become flesh becoming Word. It was when He let me see into her heart and how tangled sanity and insanity become and how and what I, as His disciple, am called to speak into the lives of those who need His touch. I looked her in the eyes as I held her hand and sat on the edge of her bed like I’d do if she was my mom or grandmother, and I told her I loved her. I told her all the good things I could think of about her, how her eyes sparkled, how I love her stories, how I thought she was a joy to know. How well I think she is coping with so much change and how I know that she doesn’t need to be afraid, but it’s okay that she is, because God will be there beside her to walk through this uncertainty. Then she cried. And she said I could say those words to her every day if I want to, because she tries to think of and remember the good things about herself, but she doesn’t want to be self-centered. And I told her she was beautiful. And she believed me.
She’s a voracious reader. But rather than mysteries or classics or anything from on the bookshelf, I went to my locker and I got the book I’m reading, WonderStruck, and gave it to her. Maybe. Who knows? She might awaken to His beauty in the dust too. So here’s what beauty looked like to me: