"Dear Carers"


    Category
    Dementia-Friendly Churches Blog
    Date
    10 Sep 2019
    Author
    Zoe Heming
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    We’re republishing a series of “open letters” that Revd Zoe Heming wrote some years back, during her curacy, for her church’s parish magazine - to “Dear Dementia,” “Dear Carers,” “Dear Younger-self,” “Dear Church,”...

    Dear Carers,

    It struck me recently that in our culture, leaving childhood for adult independence is what we are conditioned to pursue. A dread of needing to rely on others is greater than a fear of being relied upon by another - being 'a carer'. Yet for millions this is life - caring for someone who couldn’t manage without you.

    As someone who has experienced both sides of this demanding relationship (as carer for my mum), my husband and I are in little doubt that it is harder to be the 'carer' than the 'cared for'. But we don’t get to choose, do we?

    When it becomes your job to fit together the myriad of tiny pieces which form a 'normal' day for someone else, they don’t feel tiny any more. Even the most devoted and saintly of carers still face the unachievable task of shouldering another’s burdens without feeling the cost.

    Jesus taught us that to be 'abundantly' alive we already need to depend on each other- and frankly, we’d rather not. “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” The Bible reveals surrender to our weaknesses as the beginning of healing and wholeness - our culture labels this 'being a burden'. It’s the most natural thing in the world to think that you, 'the carer' must remain exempt from this fragility - you must remain strong. Really? All the time?? Even as a priest, it’s much easier to pretend to be strong than admit to weakness; and yet...

    Jesus also said “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest…” Is it possible to take up this invitation when someone else depends on you?

    I believe so, but it won’t be easy.It will rely on you admitting to yourself, to your 'neighbour', to your community and to God that you also need help.

    Even though the Daily Mail would have us believe that people these days are selfish and not interested in helping one another out, they are wrong. Worse than that, the fear they spread with this lie makes us more afraid to ask for someone to lend a hand. But a quiet and growing revolution is alive in all our communities.

    We all know that deep down it really is better to give than to receive and people, by and large, would rather muck in than live isolated and 'independent' lives, if given the opportunity. It’s contagious too! Look at the spontaneous rolling up of sleeves in our communities with Food Banks; collections for migrants in Calais; Help for Heros; Dementia Friends; CAP debt counselling... tangible generosity which has tumbled over and made all our lives richer in the process.

    If you haven’t already, dare join the Christian community where we all share equal need of God and each other to sustain and care for us. God sees all you do; each gesture of care; how tired you get; and longs to shoulder your burden with you.

    Many hands make much lighter work and we can only ever give what we’ve received. Cutbacks and austerity in what the government offers to those who need a hand means we need to continue to re-build our communities where 'loving your neighbour' is the thing in life which makes us all more whole. There is no deficit of love and compassion and it has always been a glorious, messy business.

    My prayer is that you muster the courage to admit your struggles and give your 'neighbour' the opportunities to be part of how God shows you how loved you are. Being a carer is a sacred vocation, and one which we are we are all called to.

    Yours sincerely,
    Revd. Zoe



    Christ Has No Body

    Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

    Christ has no body but yours,
    No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
    Yours are the eyes with which he looks
    Compassion on this world,
    Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
    Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
    Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
    Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
    Christ has no body now but yours,
    No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
    Yours are the eyes with which he looks
    compassion on this world.
    Christ has no body now on earth but yours.