Handling Life’s Diminishments

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canalHow we handle the diminishments that come inevitably with aging says a lot about the faith that has guided us through the days of our lives.

My friend and mentor Douglas Steere had to battle Alzheimer’s, that terrible disease that snatches away memory and wastes the brain, during the last years of his life. I’ve heard or read that Alzheimer’s sufferers often become violent. This brilliant one-time Rhodes scholar never did; he remained always gentle and loving. I guess you’d have to look at a lot of things to account for that, his wife Dorothy foremost among them. She gentled him in moments he felt frustrated when he couldn’t remember. I found myself saying, “Oh, how they love one another!” Connected to the web of love that bound them together was what they did at the break of day every morning: They meditated in silence for thirty minutes and then spent another thirty meditating on a text of scripture. I’m confident that meditation undergirded Dorothy in those trying days, and I wonder if it may not have opened the way for God to work in that wounded brain.

Teilhard de Chardin, the brilliant Jesuit palaeontologist and philosopher, insisted: “We must overcome death (the ultimate diminishment) by finding God in it. And by the same token, we shall find the divine established in our innermost hearts, in the last stronghold which might have seemed able to escape his reach.”  (The Divine Milieu, 82.)  Yes, and we must overcome life, often more fearful than death, by finding God in it.

One Response to “Handling Life’s Diminishments”

  1. Betty Crawshaw says:

    Reading “Handling Life’s Diminishments” today just fit as if tailor made into the lessons The Lord has been teaching me recently. About 2yrs ago, after spending the previous 10yrs gradually cutting back my own life to help care for my mother through Alzheimer’s and then my father through chronic heart failure, I suddenly found that my husband (who has vascular dementia and diabetes) and I had to relocate again at ages 70 and 63. Our new home is not in a senior community but in a condo complex about an hour away from our former church and any friends or family. Although we and our realtor (an old neighbor and friend) both recognized on sight that this was the place the Lord had prepared for us, I have have had great difficulty adjusting. My husband and I knew The Lord had passed the spiritual leadership of our two large extended families to us, and I also soon felt the Lord directing my attention to a church here and also a needed ministry in this new community. But I felt so cut off from my own past life and exhausted from moving as well as caring for my husband that I could barely manage the minimum tasks of daily living. Church attendance and even personal devotions became hit and miss, and I wondered how we could ever carry out the tasks the Lord had given us. Then a few months ago, aware my laptop and cel phone had “died”, our kids bought us a tablet computer — and I found “The Upper Room” online. I have been so encouraged by feeling linked with believers around the world and sharing their teaching, insights and testimonies through this online community! And I have come to thank our Lord for removing so many busy activities from my life! Now in the last 1/3 of my life I have the gift of TIME — to REST in The Lord, to BE with my husband, to ACCEPT help from others, and also MORE TIME TO DEVOTE to meditation, praise, intercessory prayer, and Godly counsel to those The Lord sends my way. I can now better accept the diminishments of old age as steps taking me closer to Him.

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