Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Eldercare tip: Prayer is Just What the Doctor Ordered, for You, for Your Aging Parent

Facing struggles relating to our aging parents can drive us to our knees.

Difficult decisions, hard transitions, thorny relationships.  The storms of life can call us to the place of prayer.  We pray for wisdom for ourselves, for peace for our aging parent, and direction for the situations we face.

Prayer isn't just for churchgoers.  Nonbelievers pray, including Will Schwalbe, author of "The End of Your Life Book Club."  The book chronicles his mother's struggles with pancreatic cancer and tells of their book-club for two which met in various doctor's waiting rooms.  Mother and son read lots of books, including The Bible.  Schwalbe was a self-confessed atheist; his mother, a Christian.

One day Schwalbe announced, "I'm going to pray.  Well, not in a church.  But I'm going to pray." His mother beamed. That night, and in the nights to come, he did pray.  He used a devotional book of autobiographical essays by Anne Lamott called "Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith."

Lamott said the two best prayers are:  "Help me, help me, help me,"  And "Thank you, thank you, thank you."  Schwalbe tried those prayers, sometimes emphasizing the "Help me, help me, help me" and other times the "Thank you, thank you, thank you."  Sometimes he alternated; mostly he used both.

I've thought a lot about those two prayers, particularly as we face struggles related to our aging parent.  Tomorrow, on Thanksgiving,  we can pray "Thank you, thank you, thank you." Goodness knows, in the days ahead, we'll be praying "Help me, help me, help me."  And that's a good thing, too.

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