No more back-to-school?

 

As I was walking through WalMart the other day, I realized that this is the first August in a long, long time when I wouldn't be getting ready for the first day of school. The store was busy with parents and children buying school supplies, but I strolled right through the crowds. I didn't have to buy any notebooks, pens and markers this year. My youngest just graduated from high school.

On the one hand, it's nice to be out of that stage of life. We had a great experience in the public schools here in our community. But the goal is graduation and the next step is college. In the past, we usually straddled both worlds with our three children, spread out through high school, college and graduate schools. Now we have just one beginning her college studies.

I know that it will be an adjustment. With children in school, you had an automatic link to the community. I forged great relationships with my children's friends and parents, teachers and administrators, counselors and coaches, directors and volunteers. I saw them at meetings, games, rehearsals, concerts, banquets and fund-raisers. I can no longer take those relationships for granted. I will have to be more deliberate in staying connected with the community.

When I had children in school, it was hard to understand why more of the community wasn't really interested in the schools. Now I do. Now the temptation is to think, “That's someone else's problem.” That's not true, of course, but it's very easy to start down that path.

So now I thinking about how to establish new connections. I can still volunteer, I can still attend events, and I still have a relationship with the youth and children in the congregation. I am looking forward to being a part of back-to-school in a different way.

 

Reflections on a visit

 

Today's visit took me to a care facility I haven't been to before, to visit with an old friend and long time member of our church. Over the past year or so, Alzheimer's disease has gradually taken away much of his ability to communicate. But up until a few weeks ago, he was still coming to worship on Sundays and a men's bible class on Thursday mornings.

How quickly things changed. He recognized me, but just for a moment. He really wasn't able to understand when I attempted to give him communion. As we prayed, he squeezed my hand a few times, but didn't join in with the Lord's Prayer. Not only was he confined to a locked wing of the facility, but he was also trapped in a condition where he just couldn't express himself.

As we sat and visited, other residents of that wing wandered over, stood there and watched. When I said, “Hello,” they smiled and said, “Hello” in response, but all with blank stares. I felt like I had traveled to a different world, one where time and space didn't exist. Each day is pretty much the same here.

The caregivers here are amazing. Their patience and compassion is extraordinary. What a blessing they are to each of the residents!

As I drove home, two things kept running through my mind. First, even when your mind doesn't work the way it used to, there must still be a faith connection with God. After all, nothing can separate us from His love. So visits and prayers and the Word are still profoundly important in situations like this.

Second, I hope that a pastor will come visit me if and when I'm in a situation like that. Up until now, I've done just about all the visiting. But one day, I'll be the one who will be visited. Every time I head out to go and see someone, I try to make it the kind of visit I hope to get one day.