Jesus said: “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate (companion) to help you and be with you forever: the Holy Spirit” (John 14:17)
As a Chaplain, let alone as a follower of Christ, it is vital that I maintain my spiritual health. One way in which I do this is to use daily devotionals like “Our Daily Bread” and “The Word for Today”. In the past I have used “Every Day With Jesus”, Scripture Union resources, and others. As a new Christian I used a devotional which helped me read the whole Bible in chronological (not book) order. What a wonderful way to understand the history of God and His people – “His-story”!
The devotional for 27th July in “Our Daily Bread” is entitled “Sweet Company”. Anne Cetas writes:
The elderly woman in the nursing home didn’t speak to anyone or request anything. It seemed she merely existed, rocking in her creaky old chair. She didn’t have many visitors, so one young nurse would often go into her room on her breaks. Without asking the woman questions to try to get her to talk, she simply pulled up another chair and rocked with her. After several months, the elderly woman said to her, “Thank you for rocking with me.” She was grateful for the companionship.
The word “companion” comes from the latin “com-panis”. The “com” means “with”. We see this in the word “company”. The elderly woman enjoyed the nurse’s company. The nurse rocked with the woman. The word “panis” means “bread”. We see this in the Italian bread called Panini. So, “companion” literally means “with-bread”. In English we would say that a “companion” is a person “with whom we eat bread”. That is, we share the most basic of all human needs – the need to eat – with someone else. We eat/dine with them. We “break bread” with them. It is something we do together. We are not doing it alone.
The young nurse was a faithful companion to the elderly woman – in every sense of the word. She was sharing one of the most basic of human needs: to be with someone else, to commune with them, to value them and their company, to sit in the silence of loving care. That was her calling.
That is also our calling! As we commune with those living with dementia we don’t necessarily have to use words. We need to use our eyes, our ears, and our heart. We need to imitate them, in the best way possible: to get on our rockers and rock along! We need to be patient, for communication takes time, especially in a brain that is damaged. And we need to expect: expect that God is with us, and expect that a miracle can happen: “Thank you for rocking with me.”