We've just returned from Mothwa Haven, an old-age home in North End, and (to be quite honest) I could have spent the entire afternoon there. I don't know what it is - I never thought of myself as having a particular ministry to older folks, but somehow there is great pleasure in just sitting and chatting to people. And as I shared some tea with the folks, and listened to some of their memories, I really felt ... well, loved, actually.
There were a couple of sad moments, however.
Firstly, there was a realisation that although the residents have each other's company, and the surroundings are pleasant enough (I, for one, wouldn't feel too hard done by living there, except that my surround-sound hifi system might create a few enemies), many of the people receive few (if any) visitors from outside. I'm beginning to think that having a group of people to visit such homes on a regular basis, taking along a tray of biccies and having a chat, playing cards, or simply reading to the folks (especially those with failing eyesight) could be a ministry in itself.
Secondly, some of the particularly frail people are no longer to take care of even the basic necessities, such as feeding themselves or performing ablutions. I nearly cried when we were serving communion, as for some of the folks we literally needed to place the bread in their mouths, and hold the cup for them - just as one would do with a baby.
The sobering thought is that all of us will one day grow old. I once heard a saying that the level to which a nation can be considered "civilised" is evidenced by how they treat their aged. I just have such a deep sense whenever I visit these homes, both on this plunge and back in my home Circuit, that many of these folks were there for the Church their whole lives - now the Church needs to be there for them. My prayer is that Luke 6: 38 will hold true in this instance, and that as I "give" by visiting institutions such as this, it will be "given back to me" in the form of someone visiting me when I get to the age where I can no longer get out and about.
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