When was the last time you listened closely to the words of the Lord’s Prayer?
On Sunday mornings once a month, I take communion to Catholic residents at a nearby nursing home, including a few residents in various stages of Alzheimer’s. Some of the Alzheimer residents are not able to receive communion, or are often asleep when I arrive, so I usually just say a short prayer with them.
Last Sunday, when I came to one of the women who had her eyes closed (let’s call her Alice for the sake of privacy), I gently touched her on the shoulder and asked her if she would like to say the Lord’s Prayer. She opened her eyes in kind of blank stare. I knelt down beside her, put my hand on her hand, and started to slowly recite the Lord’s Prayer. Her eyes began to open wide and she started to say the words with me. Her eyes became wider and wider as she saw herself remembering the words. A slight smile spread across her face. She appeared as if she were proud of herself for remembering the words. As we finished a small tear appeared in the corner of one of her eyes. I said, “Alice, would you like to receive communion?” “Yes,” she nodded, and I placed the Eucharist on her tongue.
This was the first time that I had ever seen Alice receive communion. It was as if the Lord’s Prayer had awakened her soul and memory, enabling her to recite the entire prayer. It made the back of my neck tingle.
I, too, was impacted by seeing the power of Jesus’ words on Alice, words Jesus suggested to his disciples when they asked him how to pray. (Luke 11:2) For many of us the Lord’s Prayer has become so familiar we may recite the words, but their meaning may no longer penetrate our mind and heart.
I must confess that I was impacted in one additional way. When I first started to take communion to the residents of this nursing home, I was very uncomfortable with the Alzheimer’s residents. In fact, on my second visit I skipped going to their floor. But after seeing the impact of Jesus’ words on Alice and watching how those words awakened God’s presence in her, I received a new love for Alice and all her fellow residents. God was moving in my heart as well as Alice’s. I will never skip her floor again.
Do you have a perspective on a person or situation in your life that God would like to change?
Like you, I bring communion every third Monday to a memory care facility. Like you, i shared in the reluctancy but have watched as the Lord has changed my heart. Last Monday, I went into the most severe unit and found the two women there, each with their husbands. One had been in the unit for 11 years. I was very moved at the dedication and loyalty of their spouses. In each case, I took time to pray with the couple and for God’s blessing and grace on their relationship and marriage. What a privilege.
The Lord is acting in both our lives. He seems to keep putting opportunities in front of us.
AMEN, Steve! I served again yesterday. It opens your eyes to world I have never witnessed before.