Sunday, October 28, 2012

A home for Dorris

I rarely cry at weddings, occasionally at funerals, and nearly always at baptisms.  A few Sunday’s ago,  I wiped away a tear while watching my mother-in-law, Dorris, receive communion. 

She cared for her husband through eighteen years of Alzheimers.  The last few years, he spent in a memory care facility and at that time we realized that Dorris was slipping away from us, too.  As I watched her lean forward to receive the grace found in the body and blood, I was struck by the realization that she was home
Early this morning, as my husband contemplated the music he would be playing later for the Reformation service at our church, he took a phone call from the police; one of the top ten fears for parents.  This phone call did not involve our children, but was instead notification that Dorris had wandered out of her room and out of her building and showed up at a convenience store several blocks away from her assisted living residence.  The industry would say she “eloped.”  

Paul and I suspect she was out and about, trying to figure out where she was.  She frequently asks about going home, but lately the home she describes is the house in Blackburn, Missouri where her mother lived for many years.  Just last evening she told Paul that she was on an island and that she needed to find her husband as he was expected to speak for the conference being held there.  She has reached a point in her illness where she is perpetually looking for her home. 

Paul calls this elopement a “drive through a glass door” event; a watershed event that signals the need for a drastic change.  The term comes from when Dorris drove her little car into the front door of a local fast food place.  She calmly got out of the car, walked in, and ordered a sandwich.  We took that to mean she needed to be done driving.  We suspect eloping during early morning hours means she needs to move to a different level of care.  She has been moving to a new home for about nine months, now.  This will be her third move, already.  It is little wonder she is searching for home.

So now I understand why the beauty of sharing the body and blood at the Lord’s home table is so very moving.  God does not wait for us to find Him.  He does not pace the floor in worry over when we will show up.  He does not shake his head when we are late. He knows where we are and He comes to us.  Just as our Pastor moves from the altar to Dorris’ seat to bring her the forgiveness found in this sacrament, God sets up His table where we are.  He surrounds us with forgiveness, grace and mercy and brings us home to Him; to our perpetual home.

As I type this, Paul and his brother Karl, who thankfully came from Missouri for a visit, are discussing details regarding an earthly home for their mother.  Arrangements will be made to assure her comfort and safety even as little can be done to help her perception of where home is.  She will move again and her cat will find a new home as well. We will continue to visit her, to place tangible evidences of home around her room, and to talk with her about whatever is familiar to her at that moment.  We will try to create a home for her as she wanders through her memories.  And we will rejoice that we all have a permanent home with our heavenly Father, that His Son died to create that home for us, and that His Spirit surrounds us to create that home in the sweet song of faith. We are safe; we are home

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
 Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.  Psalm 121 (ESV