Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Being Human

“I feel like a human being again.”

That’s what a parishioner – a small older woman with wispy hair and a soft smile – said to me in the hospital, after having just taken a bath. And by “bath,” I mean that she had a tub of hot water on her lap, and that morning she had taken the time to use a towel and wash her upper body.

Just something as simple as taking a bath, of cleansing herself, had given her back her humanity.

That morning, she had the ability to feel like a human being again. Maybe it was because of the attention she was able to give her body; maybe it was the lack of someone else helping her do something; or maybe it just felt so good to be warm and clean again, that she remembered who she was:

A beautiful child of God.

I visit people all the time at Trinity. Whether it be in hospitals, waiting rooms, hospice homes, actual homes, kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, or even prisons, I spend a good amount of time on my internship listening and talking to people.

And I live in south Florida, the home of all things retirement facilities and golf courses. I see a lot of old people. I’ve gotten to know them, learn from them, listen to them, and experience their humanity.

Too often that humanity is subtly taken away. And it’s not malicious in its intent. It’s just simple things – doctors talking to the nurses and family in the room, but never to the person in the bed. People who are ‘shut-in,’ stuck in their homes, in the same chair, in the same room, because they don’t have the ability to leave the house, whether it’s physically or mentally. 70-year olds, 80, 90, 106 year-old people who talk about the life they’ve lived and who seem to be preparing for it to end.

I’m 26, and I never talk like that. But I’m learning the power of that conversation. I’m learning the importance of regaining a sense of humanity in the onslaught of a culture who has a place, a prescription, or a ‘solution’ for the problem of old age.

“I feel like a human being again.” I hope that everyone, every day, can say that.


At 11:03 PM , Blogger E said...

Amen, Jason. Amen.


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