The Bible has a lot to say about love. In Proverbs 17:17 we find the advice that A friend loves at all times! And in 1 Corinthians 13 we are remained of what love is.
For the past year I have been working at a Nursing home. As any ministry job you do learn a lot and truly see how God works in and through us. Here is a reflection on love and a good reminder as we approach Valentines on what true love really is about.
One of my favorite units to work in is the memory care - or the dementia unit. You never know what will happen there or what might be said. But the reason why it is my favorite is because it is a true testimony to love and grace and how that works in the world and in our lives.
Recently I walked on the unit to find a member walking her wheel chair down the hall. She looked like her hair hadn't been comb that morning and her face just screamed frazzled. This was not her normal state. This was not the loving personable resident I knew. I stopped and addressed her (we shall call her Lilly). I asked Lilly what was wrong. It took her a minute to hear me but in one second her face transformed out of frazzled and into relief. "oh good it is you!" Does she know my name? No. Would Lilly even be able to state I am the Chaplain, probably not; but in that moment she recognized the safety of my face, because through love I have worked with her getting to know her. "What is wrong Lilly?" I repeated. "Well you know...these people here. Where the heck is he? Why isn't he here? And these people!" Soon I realized she was talking about the nurse. The head nurse was out for the week on vacation and so there were unfamiliar faces. She wouldn't accept their care or help. She wanted to know where the one she knew loved her was. Even though she didn't know his name or my name. She knew the love that transcends the memories and works to bring peace and grace to all.
I stand in awe of the emotion of love and how it works even when our minds have seemingly forgotten. It is truly touching when someone with severe dementia response to a family member's presence even when they cannot verbalize or even grasp at the relationship they once had. It is a testimony to love when familiar and loving faces can calm down even a person's worse frustrated moment because amongst the chaos of life, love can transcend that moment and send calmness into the chaos.
This is the testimony to God's love. That even when we can't understand the world around us or what is happening - God's love can transcend the chaos and find us. Even when we feel like all hope is lost or we feel like we are in a room of strangers - the love of God can and will lead us out into the joy of life.
Life is not usually a picture book of fairy tales but life doesn't have to be a horror story of destruction and death. Life can be instead a testimony to God and the work of Christ in our life. Life can be a reflection of our relationship with Divine instead of chaos. It is all about how we accept and allow or even more correctly how we acknowledge God working in our lives and allow this to transform us.
If love can transcend the disease of dementia and bring some sense of security and safety to people who live in a constant state of confusion and mucky memories - then imagine what God's love can do for you! It can transcend your situation and bring you out of your tunnel vision and into the reality of Creation.
I challenge you to watch and open yourself to the love that transcends us and paves for us the path of Divine life and Creation. I ask you to be aware of when God is offering love above the grey of the day and shinning for you hope and light. Even on the best of days, God's rays of love shine around us. I challenge you each day to find that ray of love and allow it to - even if for only a moment - transcend that moment into one of thankfulness and realization. For love is truly the best and most powerful of our emotions and it is love and not hate that remains with us.
Go and love! Go and be love! Go and feel love! For love remains in our hearts and minds...