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Deeper than expected

Posted by markdohle , 02 February 2007 · 49 views

I went for my visit with William yesterday afternoon, at the psyche hospital he is at for a few days.  I noticed that they put him in a different wing this time.  Larger, nicer, with more room to walk around in, more windows to look out of etc.  I was surprised at this and asked the nurse about it.  She told me the doctor wanted to see how he did in a larger environment, but it was not working out too well, he wanders about too much and they have a hard time keeping an eye on him.  So he will be put into one of the smaller wards later that afternoon.  When I got there, he was in someone else’s room, trying on their clothes.  It is a continual minor problem for them.   The patients get confused and try on each others clothes.  Funny actually, every time I bring someone home from that hospital it is usually with a different set of clothes.  Not a real problem, he always goes in with those sweat clothes outfits that you get at Target or Wal-mart.  

He wanted to talk, so we went to his room, which luckily he was the only patient in it.  Each room as two beds with a curtain for separation.  So I sat on one bed and he on the other and we talked.  We talked about a lot of things, the usual things, but again for him it was for the first time.  His home, family, his life playing jazz in a band for many years,
just little things, important to him, achingly important.    

I have known William for twenty years, long before he needed me to take care of him.  One thing I always noticed is his love of prayer, something he would spend a great deal of time at, a special gift, or grace, if you want to use religious language about it.  He seemed drawn to it, and I feel that it showed up in his life in unique ways, for he was a very unusual person in my own eyes, I have never known anyone quite like him.   He was a man prone to extremes in just about everything.  In his compliments to people he was effusive, overflowing with telling others how special they were; one of his favorites is “you are a breath of fresh air”.  He would say it a very expansive and often loving way.   When he got angry it was explosive, in your face kind of thing, but he got it, out and it was over.  He was not what I would call a repressed personality, what you see is what you get.  In other words he was very child like and open.  These extremes often hid from others his intelligence, which was deeper than many expected.   He used to love to read the New York Times, often spending hours doing so, deeply immersed it its pages and sometimes discussing some of the articles he read and of his concerns over them.  

As we talked, I brought up his love of prayer, and how much I admired that about him over the years.  With that his eyes light up and he began to speak about his prayer life.
So we had this little discussion:

Me:  So William, just how do you pray?  How is it that you can spend so much time just sitting and communing with God?

William:  Well how do you pray?  He countered.

Me:   Well I said, I pray a lot on the run, that is why I often use my prayer rope, or my beads, to keep myself focused and my heart opened to God.  Is that how you pray?

William:  I don’t use beads much, I just go in and sit down, and then I open my mind  (at this point he brought up his hands on either side of his head and his eyes light up)  and then at a certain point, whoooosh I am there; after that the hours just fly by, or melt, well they seem not to matter to me (  while saying that, he spread out his arms in a very expansive gesture to try to signify the event. )

Me:  Do you think about anything when this happens?

William:  No, I am just there in the Presence of God.

I was moved by what he said, for he had shown me that this outwardly simple man, was in actuality a man of deep prayer, high in the ways of contemplation.   Yet he just looked upon it as something common, that he did everyday.  He went on telling me how lately, for some reason, he can’t do that like he did in the old days, that he often forgets.  So we talked some more, and I said that I thought that he prayed deeply for so many years that it was God’s turn to carry him in prayer, that his soul is always open, so it just might be the same thing, the path deeper and more hidden than before, but that his disease did not lessen his love of God, or his prayer in any way. He bowed his head, then looked up and smiled at me.  

I gave him the Eucharist, and he prayed his thanksgiving, and I got up to leave.  As he hugged me goodbye I felt a deep reverence and thankfulness that I could be graced to be close to such a man of God, whose greatness and holiness is hidden from so many, but real none the less.





bLu3 de 3n3rgy
Feb 02 2007 10:35 PM
QUOTE
When I got there, he was in someone else’s room, trying on their clothes. It is a continual minor problem for them. The patients get confused and try on each others clothes. Funny actually, every time I bring someone home from that hospital it is usually with a different set of clothes.


I find that interesting as it's what children sometimes do. I'm aware it's dementia patients you're talking about, but I do wonder if the urge for changing their clothes in the first place is identity related...
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QUOTE(Anvil @ Feb 2 2007, 05:35 PM)
I find that interesting as it's what children sometimes do. I'm aware it's dementia patients you're talking about, but I do wonder if the urge for changing their clothes in the first place is identity related...



Interesting point, could be, I think it is just confusion, but you may be on to something.

Peace
Mark
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