As I have mentioned once before on this blog, my mom suffers from Alzheimer's. For a number of years now, my family and I have watched as the incredible, smart, hardworking, loving, compassionate, funny, deeply spiritual prayer warrior that was Mom slowly slipped away.
Now, spending time with her is not the same. Thankfully, she still remembers us. Conversation is almost non-existent. It is hard for her to put a sentence together. She will have a thought and start to say something but by the time she gets to the second or third word of her sentence she can't remember what she started to say. She is easily agitated and out of sorts, especially when she finds herself outside of her normal context. She isn't herself.
Yesterday, I was spending some time with Mom while Dad attended a meeting and took care of some other things. Mom and I did the usual...watched a little TV, went to Starbucks for a coffee and shared an oatmeal raisin cookie (she loves those). I did some work while she 'read' the paper. Then I decided to do something I hadn't done with her in a long time. I sat down at the piano and asked her 'Do you ever play anymore Mom? Do you remember how? Do you think it would come back to you if you tried?' The answer was no to all three...she remembered being able to play, but just couldn't anymore. She played the piano in every church my dad pastored.
Then I started 'playing' (I put the word in quotations because 'playing' is a bit of an exaggeration. I took a few lessons in the past and can 'play' some golden oldies very haltingly...that's about it). I began to play an old chorus that nobody sings anymore. I didn't sing...just played. And something amazing happened. I suddenly became conscious of another sound. My mom was standing behind me singing every word! 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. There's just something about that name. Master, Saviour, Jesus. Like the fragrance after the rain.' She sang the whole thing, word for word. My eyes are tearing up now as I type this, just the same as they did yesterday when it happened.
Then I thought maybe it was luck. So I played another one. Inside a minute, Mom had picked up the tune to 'Majesty' and was singing right along. 'All Hail King Jesus' and 'Jesus Loves Me'...same thing.
Most of the time, when I look into my mom's eyes these days, there's nothing there. It seems like she is somewhere else altogether. But I know now - her spirit is alive and well.
It reminded me of Psalm 42:7, 8.
'Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.'
Deep inside the shell that is now my mom, the things pertaining to God's Spirit still call to her. His song is still within her. And in those moments of recognition, it is like the lights come on for a minute or two and she is her old self again. A friend from the church where my parents attend told my wife that it is the same when my mom prays. She used to pray...my how she used to pray! I am doing what I am doing with my life today because of that. But I never thought she would be able to put enough thoughts together to pray a prayer these days. Apparently not so. When she prays, she still prays like the prayer warrior we all remember.
It amazes me to think that there are so many people out there who think that God isn't real and that we are not spiritual people. I think that this gives irrefutable evidence that we are spiritual first, and people second. And that the physical house is definitely temporary and at some point, we can even be trapped in it. Waiting for our spirit to be freed into God's presence where there is no pain, no suffering, no sickness or tears and where there is fullness of joy forever more.
Even so, come Lord Jesus.