All this week, we’ve been exploring the challenging question, “How different do ‘WE’ look?” We’ve explored similarities between Muslims and non-Muslims. We’ve visited with a remarkable Hindu movement that is making connections between Indian traditions and the teachings of Jesus.
Today, we’re continuing our occasional series of Guest Writers — giving you an opportunity to hear from Missy Buchanan, a writer from Texas who is exploring spiritual connections between younger and older people in innovative ways.
Her book has a title that may stop you in your tracks: “Living with Purpose in a Worn-Out Body: Spiritual Encouragement for Older Adults.”
In our youth-oriented culture, who wants to admit that our bodies are “worn-out”? But I talked at length with Missy, this week, about her work. What she’s doing is prophetically confronting us with meditations that reflect the reality faced by people who we might refer to with phrases including “frail elderly” or “shut in” or “assisted-living resident” –- referring to people in those situations who are coming to terms with the somber truth that their bodies are, indeed, wearing out.
“One health crisis in an older person’s life can change you from being an active senior who’s either a go-go person or perhaps a slow-go person –- into someone who really is a no-go person,” Missy told me via telephone. “Do you realize how many brochures for senior facilities are full of pictures of people playing golf and doing all these other active things? I’ve talked to people who are moving into these residences –- and some of them are anxious because they can’t be doing all those things. We’re not helping people if we’re not being honest about the situations a lot of our parents and grandparents are dealing with these days.”
For a growing number of our neighbors, we’re talking about coming to terms with living in a facility where visits from family and old friends are rare, where people face the challenge of making new friends with strangers –- and where residents often are struggling with a whole range of their own disabilities.
Missy visits her own 92-year-old mother every day in a senior-care residence near Dallas (there’s a photo of them below). Missy has talked with residents of her mother’s home and many other men and women living in such situations. In her meditations, she voices their spiritual concerns in a series of poetic prayers.
TODAY, we’re pleased to share with you two samples of Missy’s work. Click on the book cover to jump to our review and order a copy of the complete book, if you wish. Or visit Missy’s own Web site to learn more about her work.
By Missy Buchanan
Each day I look forward to the familiar sound.
Keys clinking against metal boxes, announcing that the mail has arrived.
Perhaps there will be a colorful card or a crayon drawing for my wall.
Most likely, though, there will only be slick-paper ads and coupons I will never use.
No-name mail addressed to “Occupant.”
Still I am anxious to peek inside the mailbox.
And even if nothing is there, You have not forgotten me.
You have sent me love letters of scripture to read again and again.
They are words of wisdom, words of encouragement and hope.
So if there is only junk mail in my box today, I will rest in the promise that my name is written on your heart.
Lord, I want to live my life as more than an “Occupant.”
I want to live so that others might see who you are.
When my life seems insignificant, remind me that I still have value.
Today I will send a postcard to a neighbor who has been ill.
I will write a note to a friend just to say “I’m thinking of you.”
For the price of a stamp, a fellow sojourner will be lifted up.
Postmarked: Glorious blessing.
AROUND THE TABLE
By Missy Buchanan
Above the muffled conversation, there is a gentle clattering of rolling carts and ice in glasses.
It’s lunchtime, and I am grateful for this time of fellowship and food.
Once strangers, now friends, we sit around the table, bringing different tastes acquired over decades of life experiences.
Too much pepper. Not enough. Too sweet. Too sour. Just right.
Around the table, we are community, where relationships are more important than food.
It is here that we exchange bragging rights about a granddaughter’s new job or a nephew’s award.
Here we share laughter and stories, aches and pains.
Some of us wear oversized bibs around our necks, a practical solution to spills and such.
We are Baptists and Methodists, Catholics and evangelicals, and some who have rarely darkened a church door.
But around the table, no one is impressed by denominational platitude. We are simply sojourners together.
The table is a place of connectedness where someone notices and cares if you are not there.
O God, you have made us a people who crave relationship.
You have made us hungry for love and respect, no matter our age.
And you have given us a holy appetite for you.
Fill us up, Lord!
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