A powerful, thought-provoking insight....

Give me a well-trained tongue that has been borne out of silent listening in the sanctuary of my heart.

~ sevensacredpauses by Macrina Wiederkehr

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tough Questions

Where does Alzheimer's disease leave its victim when death approaches?

There are many questions family members have when their loved one is lying in a bed, incapable of communication. Questions arise about their loved one's spiritual life, their relationship with God, what will happen when they die? Will their loved one "know where to go?" Questions which might sound odd now, but which create quite an ache in a family's heart.

A friend of mine's mother is in hospice care. Currently, she's "negotiating" her exit strategy, at least that's what I call it. My friend called me wanting to check in and let me know how things were progressing. As we kept talking, we got to the crux of the matter. Her mom has Alzheimer's disease and my friend was worried about whether her mother would know where to go. Now, my own mother died from complications of Alzheimer's disease. Yet, that was one question that didn't come up for me.

I answered my friend with an absolute yes! her mother would know where to go. That Alzheimer's disease is a condition of the mind, not the soul. That God had never forgotten her mother and knew right where she was. That her mother had never forgotten God and was simply "working it out."

That place in our minds where our knowledge of God resides survives the devastation of plaques and tangles. Songs and familiar scripture passages wend their way through the damaged brain, and make it in one piece to that spiritual place. It is an amazing experience to share in worship with folks who for days or months haven't spoken a single intelligible word then to hear them sing a song or speak out scripture passages.

To me, this speaks volumes about the ability of our spirit to stay in relationship with God regardless of what our brain is capable of doing. To me this says a lot about the steadfast faithfulness of our God. To me, this is a reminder of God's love and how we can always trust it to prevail.

I'm glad my friend asked me a tough question. I'm also glad that God gave me an absolute answer to offer her. God is good. All the time.

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