An Easter Reflection – Christ is Risen Indeed!April 21, 2019
Written by Jim Smith, director of mission integration, Benedictine
What comes to people’s minds when they think of skilled nursing and assisted living communities that are caring for older adults in our community? Do they think of Easter, of the resurrection, of new life? Or do they think of seniors who have lost their productivity to family and society, people who are suffering and facing death? Perhaps those latter images come to mind more readily than the resurrection!
Yet, within the Benedictine Health System, the rising of Jesus is manifest in every room, around every corner, down every hallway of our senior living communities throughout the Midwest. For example:
· A resident expresses her deep frustration to the housekeeper in her room that she has lost so much control in her life. The housekeeper pauses her cleaning to sit briefly with the resident, looks her in the eyes, and says with sincerity, “That must be so hard for you. I’m really sorry.” You see, when suffering is met with compassion, Christ is Risen.
· While being bathed by a young nursing assistant, the resident with dementia becomes agitated, spouting harsh words to the aide. With calm hands, the assistant gently rubs the warm, wet sponge on the resident’s back, allowing the harsh words to roll off her own back, and gradually the resident calms. When understanding and patience are offered to those affected by disease, Christ is Risen.
· Another nursing assistant is bringing food to the mouth of a resident who has lost his ability to speak and to care for himself. Yet that doesn’t stop the assistant from talking to the resident, using a tone that is respectful to this elder, presuming that somewhere in the soul of the man he’s listening and absorbing. When deep respect is offered to one whom others might have written off, Christ is Risen.
· As the nurse pokes the resident’s finger to test her blood sugars, the resident reaches up with her free hand, touches the cheek of the nurse and says, “You are such a dear!” The nurse surprises herself with blushing. Somewhere within, the nurse needed to hear those words from another. When recognition and gratitude are given, Christ is Risen.
These moments are not a rarity within the walls of our senior communities. They are present every day. In the simple, often unnoticed exchanges in these sacred places, God springs forth in quiet but profound fashion. Christ is Risen indeed! A young priest poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, put it rather well:
“…for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his”
Blessings to all, young and old alike, this Easter season.