Faith can pull us through our struggles, fears, anger, and our sadness. Faith helps us hold onto the light of our joy and successes in times of darkness. As we journey with dementia, our lives continue to experience a range of emotions, trials, and joys, so why does our faith get crossed off the list the moment memory and language start to waver? How can we, as persons living without dementia, help those living with dementia continue to grow in faith?
We are all the woman reaching out to touch the Hem of Christ. We are all the woman seeking healing after a period of suffering and pain, having faith that if we simply touch Jesus’ garment, we will be healed. Through our prayers, our interactions with our faith community, our church attendance, we seek healing from the many things that ail us in this world. We seek healing for physical, mental, emotional, financial, relational, spiritual pain. We cry out to God to be merciful and bring us peace. We pray for miracles and angels. We search for meaning in our pain and pray for healing, not knowing how long our pain might last or if it will end. We are all the woman reaching out, believe that we will be healed, if only we touch a thread from Christ’s garment.
While we are all seekers in need of healing, we are also the hands and feet of Christ. Because of us, He can answer the prayers of others. As individuals living with dementia, as care partners, family and friends, and as community members, we become the hem of Christ for those seeking healing in this life and those walking with us on the dementia journey. We likely cannot provide the miracles those on this journey pray for, but we can alleviate some of the sufferings. We can walk with our fellow men and women in faith.
Why then is faith pulled away from those who need it most? Why do we disrespect the faith of someone living with dementia because of what we assume they will remember? Why do we pull Christ’s hem closer inward when someone is reaching out to meet us?
For those living with dementia, faith is the one constant that does not care about memory, an ailing body, or the humility one sometimes feels while receiving care. One’s faith community may be the only thing standing once the diagnosis of some form of dementia hits the charts. We then must prepare ourselves to accompany those on the dementia journey, becoming the hem of Christ. Becoming the very thing that will alleviate some of the sufferings, heal the wounds of isolation and being left behind.
For those of you who have been with me on this journey for some time may know, walking with those in faith and dementia has been a major part of my work. Since 2013, I have dedicated a part of my life to helping those living with dementia and their care partners live fully alive, connected to the community of faith they seek. In my visits, I bring with me the Eucharist, prayer, conversations of faith, Advent and Lenten reflections, and much more. Over the last 2 years, I have discovered ways to formalize this work, so that others will have the training, support, and faith formation required to go where I alone cannot go. The Hem of Christ Ministry is taking steps to become a non-profit organization and full ministry of the church. After 3 years of ignoring the call, I have decided to make it happen, for it is only through the Holy Spirit’s guidance that any of this is possible. The details will come in future posts, but I ask for your prayers as I continue this journey of faith. If you would like to be a minister of this ministry please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will work with you to train your church, support the work you wish to do, and magnify the gifts you can bring to the ministry, and add you to our daily prayer.
For the Glory of God Alone! May we accompany those living with dementia and their care partners!