Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Song and dance routine

Dorris called the other day for someone to come pick her up from her hotel because Marx forgot to get her.

When I got to the Arbors I told her that she was not in a hotel; this was where she was living.

"Here?  Why do I live here?"

"Because this place has many people who can help you and keep you safe."

"I have been calling Marx all day to get him to come pick me up from this hotel."

"Marx is dead.(I used to say he’s gone to heaven, but then she said “I think we can just say he is dead.")

"He’s dead?  How long?"

"He’s been dead for two years now."

"I remember you’ve told me that, but I always seem to forget it.  I think I need to live some place where I can get some help with my memory."

"You do; you live here."

"Here?  All I know is I have been sleeping some place new every night and every place has one of these black couches. "

"Dorris, this is your room and your couch".

"No, I don’t think so."

Sometimes my conversations with Dorris’ memory spin around in such a tight circle that I want to put my head between my knees and brace myself for a crash landing.

Years ago I learned about whale songs.  Apparently, whales sing a song back and forth to each other and each passing of the song changes a small part of it.  After a year of passing the same song, they are singing something completely new. I think this is a good description of conversation with Dorris. So much of it repeats, but usually there is some new twist.  Some things are important enough to stay in the song – things like Marx’s passing -  and others are replaced with new concerns.

The other day she told me she was getting forgetful about her forgetfulness and that worried her. I didn’t know how to respond and waited a bit for her to elaborate. Then she quietly shared that she is struggling to remember names of loved ones who live close by. 

What an interesting way to tell me she senses a change in her memory loss.  What a good reminder to me that her memory loss is not a loss of intelligence, nor is it a complete loss of what makes Dorris so uniquely Dorris.  She walked, for many years, with her parents and her husband as they slipped into the hole that is dementia.  She is losing her memory, not what she learned during those long years. 

I wonder if this little song and dance between Dorris and her loved ones is an example of our song and dance with sin?  God reaches out to us and we respond with the same familiar, but perhaps slightly changed, choreography. God patiently responds with forgiveness and His Spirit reminds us of our need to change and our need for Him.

For me the song usually starts with a few steps of “ lack of trust.” From there I move on to a descant of “depending on myself” which segues nicely into a verse or two of” selfishness and pouting.”  God has watched this song and dance for many years.  I change some of the steps, add in a new refrain, and continue on my merry way, dancing off of the walls of my worry;  leading myself further away from the One who saves me.  The One who can finish my song in the way He intended. Then, ever so smoothly, God spins me back to Him.

Paul and I have found with Dorris that it is best to simply respond and reassure. If we try too hard to counter her insistence, we only create more insecurity. We just answer, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat. Words mean little, but human presence means everything.

And so it is with my relationship with God. His love and understanding are more than I can even begin to comprehend. I spin in my sin and worry. He answers, and repeats, and repeats, and repeats. 

The Lord is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father's God, and I will exalt him. Exodus 15:2

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10: 27-28

My soul also is greatly troubled.
    But you, O Lord—how long?
Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
    save me for the sake of your steadfast love. Psalm 6: 3-4

1 comment:

Karl Marxhausen said...

Yes and yes and his tether, at times I forget and ignore it, and then he breaks into my train of thought and my puzzled hesitation turns into gratitude, he didn't forget me, he remembered me, he thinks about me, he has not shrugged me off, I am present in his memory. yes jesus, you can do it. Do it!