Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Evelyn and Sybil

Over the past few months, a relationship has developed that has really changed my outlook on life.  I've mentioned before that Evelyn and I do visits to home-bound members of the church.  Usually they are in nursing homes, but sometimes they still live in their own home with a nurse who visits frequently.  Seeing them together, there is this beautiful image of two people so close to God-- one at the beginning of her life, and one coming up on the end.  I feel like they both know something about God that we can't know.  They have this unique spiritual connection.  In the case of the older women there is often dementia or lack of muscle control or simple inability to explain the loneliness and frustration of getting older and in the case of Evelyn, her inability to talk or control her body.  These limitations and frustrations somehow bring them so close to one another.  They seem to "get" each other, and I feel like they communicate more deeply with God because of their inability to communicate with humans.  

I  know a lot of that is my perception rather than the reality.  I'm not trying to pretend that Evelyn isn't a baby, doing baby things and thinking almost constantly about eating or reaching for the closest fragile object or sugar-coated donut to shove into her mouth when I'm not looking.  Evelyn and these women certainly aren't speaking to each other telepathically or in some other realm, but I do think they connect in a way that I can't understand or explain.  

In the particular relationship I'm talking about, it feels less perceived and more real.  Sybil is a bright woman.  She is an artist, and was a commercial artist for much of her life, but had a debilitating stroke 20 years ago that left her more or less unable to use her gift.  You can tell that she still looks at the world with the eyes of an artist, and she reads probably a half dozen books in a week.  Talking isn't easy for her, though, so she is very brief and often silent.  She listens well.  

I believe that Evelyn sees the world through artist's eyes too.  Obviously she's only six months old and still developing a personality, but she is very aware of art, colors, and patterns.  If you've ever spent time with her, I think you will understand what I'm talking about.  She looks at things like she wants to know everything about them, with a very real sense of awe.  And if you haven't spent time with her, you've at least seen her eyes.  That girl's gotta soak everything up.  

Well, when I bring these two together, I can tell that they have a bond that I can't quite get.  It's more than the glasses and the bright, beautiful lap quilts that Sybil wears.  Evelyn is so calm and gentle when she's by her.  She touches her fingers so gently and stares into Sybil's knowing eyes.  And Sybil smiles when she's around her.  I can tell that Sybil is excited to see that for some people, life is just beginning. 

I've been wanting to write about this on my blog for a long time, but I haven't had the words.  I hope that what I'm trying to say makes sense.  Their's is a very spiritual relationship for me, which makes it difficult to explain to anyone.  I know I will always remember these moments, and I hope that as Evelyn continues to grow, she will continue to minister to people in beautiful and extraordinary ways.  

Finally, I'd like to include a small excerpt from my ordination paper, in which I wrote a little bit about this exact subject: 
"God did not just liberate through Jesus Christ, but continues to liberate through the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is our renewal and our guide, constantly meeting us here and now to remind us of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the grace and hesod (steadfast love) of our Creator.  Because the Holy Spirit is so ethereal, I am better able to explain this person of the Trinity through experiences in my life than through the writings and musings of other theologians.  The Holy Spirit is ceaselessly sustaining me, but is tangible in the “thin places” in my life—those places where the divide between Heaven and Earth is thin.  I believe it was the Holy Spirit who encouraged me into the ministry—as a fleeting breath, present, certain, but unable to be contained.  Each Sunday during coffee hour, the Holy Spirit brings together my daughter and a woman in hospice care—an artist who had a debilitating stroke 20 years ago.  I watch them from that thin place, Evelyn tracing her tiny, uncontrollable hands over the patterns on Sybil’s lap quilt, and Sybil understands that Evelyn is just like her—unable to control her hands and unable to explain her discomfort—and feels for just a while like someone gets her, and I know that in that moment church is happening."

1 comment:

  1. I get it. There really is something so spiritual about a baby. What an amazing connection. I bet Sybil feels so refreshed when you and Evelyn visit her. She looks so happy in her presence. You are doing some amazing, priceless work, Joanna :)


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