"Do you know where I am?"
"Where am I going now?"
I've been hearing these similar questions lately, asked with the same heart-wrenching look of confusion and a trace of fear. I've seen and heard people say these things before. I've seen them enter into the disturbing realm of dementia and thought, how sad when the elderly so often seem to revert to a child-like dependence.
Lately it's been a bit more close to home. One of the people asking me these kinds of questions is my own mother. It's hard and it leaves you with a gnawing sense of helplessness that makes you want to scream or weep. Sometimes, paradoxically, it makes you want to laugh.
I have reached that stage of life where those who have always been the anchors are now in need of someone to hold onto and I am suddenly in confusion too. This is a new place for me, one I'm not sure I'm ready for, because, truth be told, there are times when I'm not sure I know where I am or where I am going. I feel inadequate to answer those questions.
I am reminded of a poem by Luci Shaw that expresses this feeling so eloquently:
"... There is no one above you
to compass the wideness of space. You
are the final clasp that buckles
earth to heaven. Somehow, you
must hold up the ladder, heavy with life."
(from When Your Last Parent Dies; Writing the River by Luci Shaw)
Suddenly finding yourself at the top of the ladder of life can be terrifying. But there is, after all, someone to hold onto. We don't have to hold up the ladder all by ourselves. And when we are asked those disturbing questions, we can answer with assurance and comfort. We can tell them it's okay, because there is someone who knows where we all are and someone who knows were we all are going.
There's an old hymn that says it well ? "Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms, leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms." The arms of Jesus are waiting to hold us and waiting to point the way. The writer of Proverbs exhorts us to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight" (Prov.3:5,6).
There is another very comforting thought about being at the top of this "ladder, heavy with life." The next step is into the arms of Jesus.
Marcia Laycock is a pastor's wife and freelance writer living in Alberta Canada. Her devotional book, The Spur of the Moment has been endorsed by Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and others. To order, and to view more of Marcia's writing, see her web site - www.vinemarc.com
Copyright Marcia Lee Laycock, 2000, 2001,2002,2003,2004