Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 1:12).
One morning I went into the Nursing Home to see a resident who I will call Helen. Helen was living with end-stage dementia: “Dignity with Comfort” as the University of Tasmania “Understanding Dementia” MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) so rightly puts it. Helen lived in either a bed or a waterchair. She could not feed herself. The only words she ever said were: “It’s the cleaner. It’s the cleaner”. Why those words? No-one had an idea.
One morning I went into the Nursing Home and Helen’s waterchair was in the corridor. A staff member had put on a CD and the following song was playing:
The words are: Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound / That saved a wretch like me / I once was lost, but now am found / Was blind but now I see.
The hymn is, of course, “Amazing Grace”, written by the former slave-trader turned Anglican Minister John Newton. The version being played on the CD was being sung by Susan Boyle.
I listened for a short time, said “Hello Helen”, and gently touched her hand. She looked at me and said, clearly and strongly: “It is amazing!”.
In hindsight, Helen’s words were so apt. Some people could well consider Helen’s life to be wretch-ed, and by extension Helen becomes a “wretch”. Far from it!
Helen’s mind may well be “lost” in dementia, but her spirit is “found”. It has found by Jesus, and for a short moment, it was found by me.
In many ways Helen is blind to the outside world, confined as she is in her bed or waterchair. But for a few short minutes Helen showed me that she still had eyes to “see” – spiritual eyes. Helen saw and heard and experienced God’s amazing grace, and she told me about it!
What did I see? I simply saw a woman in a waterchair. What did I hear? A familiar hymn, well sung. What did I experience? Nothing much – for I had no expectation that I would experience anything much at all. However, when Helen spoke, I was given a gift: a gift that I will cherish forever. Helen taught me that God’s amazing grace is truly amazing – and that God will perform miracles, if I have eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to receive.
As Helen said: “It is amazing”.