It had been a difficult morning. Many of the residents had not slept well the night before. Many were cranky and only wanted to sleep. Most were not allowed to go back to their room. It was my task to try to engage them in activities. The deck was stacked against me.
I tried everything I could think of. I put on music (love songs from the 50’s) but this usually effective tool did not work. I tried getting them involved in manipulatives and games. This worked for a short time but soon we were back to gloom and unrest. Even my normally faithful and active domino players did not want to play their favorite game.
Then, I decided I would read them a devotional. I hoped this would a least bring a positive presence into the living area. I announce what I was going to do (little response) and then asked them to pray the Lord’s Prayer with me. I began.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
As I spoke these words I heard voices joining in. Almost all the residents, even those in a near catatonic state joined in. Those with aphasia who could not control their sounds still formed the prayer on their lips. The tension melted and most of the residents listened approvingly to the devotion.
Deep within the hearts and soul of these individuals with differing stages of dementia the Lord still remained. Our Lord promised that he would never us nor abandon us. Even in the darkness that comes with dementia, God is able to break through, come from the heart and is expressed. I never cease to be amazed at this wonderful reality.
Sometimes spiritual direction is simply providing the opportunity for the light of God to shine through the challenges people face.