“We praise you, for we are fearfully and wonderfully made!” Ps139.14 (paraphrased)
Thoughts that anyone might have when contemplating the new life of Spring, whether human or animal – or even in the buds and shoots in the garden. How much more difficult to do so when contemplating the suffering or loss of loved ones? And yet the human body and mind – for all their shortcomings and problems are fearfully and wonderfully made – and the more we discover about the workings of both, the more we realise that we understand very little really.
This February and March some of us are taking part in study sessions held in our neighbouring parish of Perton, on the way we as the Church can best respond to those living with Dementia. This is the new unspoken fear that stalks many people today – especially as we get older and maybe memory is not as sharp as it once was… Is this it? Have I started to show signs of dementia? Or do I worry that a near relative is behaving a bit strangely and may be displaying signs? We were reminded in the first session that a few years ago it was Cancer –‘ the big C’ that most people could not bring themselves to name.
But then medical science progressed and more cancers became treatable – so that such a diagnosis no longer carries the automatic death sentence it once did. Still serious of course, and plenty of people are still dying because of it, but cancer – providing it is detected early – can be beaten. The same is not true of Dementia in its many, many forms. There is – as yet – no cure and only one inevitable outcome. And many of us fear the loss of identity and dignity that can come before the end. But those with the condition and those who care for them (for whom the burden is even greater in many cases) can be helped to live well – even after a diagnosis of Dementia. So I hope that we can all become a bit better at talking about our fears and the reality with which so many families in our community are living, and offer the support and understanding that will make their lives more fruitful and bearable. And that in time we too will become a ‘Dementia Friendly Church’ and Community.
Recognising the reality of an ageing population was one of the topics of conversation at last month’s PCC ‘awayday’ – although this year we stayed at home in church, so it should more rightly be called our ‘stayday’. Coming out of our discussions will be a newly revised Mission Action Plan, helping to focus our energies over the next 12 months and beyond. We will be looking to communicate the important features of this within the wider community within the next few weeks, so look out for more information and if you have any good ideas to contribute, then don’t be shy! Our Annual Parochial Church Meeting which is open to everyone in the parish will be held on Sunday 7th April following Evensong – all are warmly invited to attend and have your say! And help us choose a new churchwarden as Iain Coleman will be stepping down after completing his 6 years of office. Thank you Iain for all your hard work and whoever succeeds you will have an easier task, thanks to your efforts to change the way the role is performed!
The new life of Spring is upon us…. new life will soon be celebrated in church at Easter as we mark the resurrection of Jesus; and we are all fearfully and wonderfully made – thanks be to God.