'Sometimes I picture myself like a candle...'
Updated: Jun 3
All BBC Radio 4's Prayers for the Day this week touch on the subject caring, to mark forthcoming National Carers' Week (7–13 June 2021). Debbie Thrower delivers a fresh reflection each morning at 5.43 am. You may listen to them anytime, though, on BBC Sounds. Tomorrow's focuses on dementia.
Good morning. Fear of dementia has now overtaken cancer, apparently, as the number one health fear. Perhaps the reason why lies in our dread of losing all the memories which make up who we are? Without my memory, who am I?
Anna Chaplains, named after the elderly widow Anna who appears in Luke’s gospel, help increase awareness of the spiritual needs of older people, including, of course, those living with dementia. Chaplains find all sorts of ways to nurture and encourage faith and spirituality in people in the third and fourth ages of life.
Chaplains often act as catalysts for new ideas; for instance, they’re pioneering Memory Cafes attached to churches and in the community, or founding carers groups and bereavement support groups.
They are skilled listeners who can help accompany people who may be finding life hard in their later years, as well as be a voice for some who might feel they’re becoming invisible as they age. At their best, they have the courage to stay present.
A poem written by a woman with dementia makes the point, graphically, that even if our cognitive abilities decrease the person we always were and still are… remains intact; in other words, our personhood is safe – with God - come what may.
Imagine a lighted candle, and here are her words:
Sometimes I picture myself like a candle. I used to be a candle about eight feet tall-burning bright. Now every day I lose a little bit of me. Someday the candle will be very small. But the flame will be just as bright.
Lord, may we shine with the light of your love all our days. Convince us that we need never fear we will lose you even if we may forget you. Amen