I feel like I’m swimming in the dark.
On a moonless night, my frail arms and legs thrash about in black despair.
I can’t see where I’m going or where I’ve been.
I can’t see the danger lurking beneath the surface,
but I know it’s there.
I am terrified of losing what little independence I have left.
I grope for a glimmer of purpose to keep me afloat, but I cannot find it.
Floundering. Gasping for air. In thick water I can feel but cannot see.
Then I sense your voice speaking to me stirring my soul:
“Look up, child. Put your feet on the rock bottom.
It is solid ground. Holy ground. Stand up and live.”
My mother-in-law is 88 and the small role my husband and I play in the fabric of care for her is spending Sunday afternoon into evenings together. We most often pick her up and bring her the 15 miles back to our home. She seems to really enjoy our intentional conversations about things from the past, and when I include any kind of squash in the dinner menu. Until a couple years ago she was living pretty well. But dementia is having its way with her and to be honest, conversation can be an uncomfortable task. She is many times in the room, but not really with us. It seems.
On several occasions we have been startled when we are talking “about” Mom only for her to say, “I’m right here,” in a gentle yet disappointed voice.
This “I’m right here” is at first embarrassing. It feels like getting caught sneaking or hiding. And then taken another step, her catching us doing this, grounds us in the reality and the mystery that we just don’t know what all IS going on inside her changing cognitive function. Her voice saying, “I’m right here,” wakes us up and humbles us.
Many of you reading this are involved in the VP3 processes and have the joy of coming alongside others as they listen for God’s ever present action in their lives. In the poem above the sense that “I feel like I’m swimming in the dark” may capture the essence of some of the people you listen with. You may hear comments that suggest an undoing in their lives, past, present or future.
We at VP3 want to remind you of the important, timely, gentle voice you have with the groups you lead, and the individuals you walk alongside in ministry. We just bet you, too, could be speaking up and saying, “I’m right here.” Don’t under-estimate your timely questions and words of encouragement waking someone up to the activity of God in their lives. “I’m right here,” may be just what a brother or sister in Christ needs to hear to find the solid ground, Holy ground, right beneath their feet.
Reflection: Who could benefit from your voice joining the Holy Spirit in saying, “I’m right here”?
What action does this require?
Poem by Missy Buchanan, Talking with God in Old Age: Meditations and Psalms. Nashville, TN: Upper Room Books, 2010. p. 65.