Ive been inspired by Josie Edwards, who is the co-ordinator for St Matthew's Church, Donnington Wood with a local residential home for adults with complex needs.
Josie came along reluctantly to the Dementia-Friendly Churches course that we ran in Wellington in March, encouraged by her vicar, Rev Paula Smith. But she immediately connected with something she heard there. We talk about meeting people where they are, as the dementia progresses crossing the bridge to meet people in their world, rather than trying to drag them back into ours.
Telling the story in Josies own words, I just want you to know that your course has transformed my visits. What you said about going to meet people where they are crossing the bridge made so much sense. So we took 1960s music to play to one woman; and I was really moved to see how she responded the music absolutely got through to her. For another man, he had a set of (rather rusty) lapel badges in a tin. My partner, Chris, has made a display case for them. Its amazing to see him respond to them, pointing to them and obviously animated. I just wanted you to know what a difference it has made.
And Josie and Chris are continuing to try different ways of making connections. Recently, they have tried some church window artwork at the home. You can see the beautiful results: you can see the light shining through.
And for the Easter service, a small group from church chose the theme God loves us all. They made a heart-linked prayer chain and then held a simple service that included the traditional Lord's Prayer, the hymn All things bright and beautiful and the Messy Church grace with actions. As Josie says, It was a wonderful, joyful experience. The afternoon finished with Easter gifts being shared, with tea and delicious cakes - one of the residents had insisted that he wanted to treat his church friends, so he was given some help to bake the cakes specially.
These practical ways of trying things out really encourage me to try out ideas and notice when they open up life-affirming connections. I hope youll be inspired by them to try out something new, looking for the doors that may open. It changes things. The light shines through, in the connections that are being made. This is Easter transformation, in the words of a poem by John V. Taylor:
At the turn of a head bent intent on a task,
ripple of light, hem of his garment only,
or lift of the heart suddenly less lonely,
is all the evidence of Easter I need.