“Being responsible for the fragility of others ”
“Being responsible for the fragility of others: Serving – caring”
Filles De La Sagesse Pastoral Team of Notre-Dame Pavillon, Maison Accueil-Sagesse, Ottawa.
Rhéa Giroux, Lucie Gagnon, Marie-Reine Grenon, Monique Potvin, Francine Gauthier, Denyse Dostaler
Did you know that a sixth sense develops in an elderly and sick person? Stripped of their youth, and often of their health, in their new fragility, they slowly tend towards what is essential. Yes, a sixth sense develops in them to grasp the depth of their being. It is there that the spark of eternity dwells, to which they draw nearer every day. Sometimes, they reveal it in a word, a silence, a look and almost give us to touch it, or at least, to feel it.
Jesus said: “I was sick and you visited me…” To be at one’s best in this service of mutual aid, to accept the person who has become so vulnerable as he or she is, it is essential to be inhabited by God in order to “see” and “touch” them in the proximity experienced between the person being helped and the helper. How fragile and delicate it is! Faced with this mystery of the journey, benevolence, respect, compassion and listening become essential attitudes. To “be with” the elderly, the sick, is a privilege that must remain discreet, true, and silent.
In English, we speak of “TLC – tender loving care”. The word benevolence is similar to this meaning: to want the good of the other, to take care of them with gentleness, by embodying the Love of Wisdom.
To be a meaningful presence on a daily basis, to be a guarantor of their well-being at all levels, to guess their needs, to become the voice of the voiceless, requires patience and kindness. It is necessary to be new every morning and to live the wisdom of the heart in order to see the other person in all their dignity. These people become, often without knowing it, a source of energy and wonder for those who live with them.
Mutual trust is built day by day in the acceptance of the weakened person. The moments of conversation become an opportunity to tell each other, to hear each other, to tell each other’s stories in order to become aware of the fruits of one’s life, of the graces received and especially of the love given and received. Thus, the great departure is prepared in peace, serenity and total abandonment.
The “give and take” becomes a mutual gift. The mission continues! It is to allow the elderly and sick person to take care of the caregiver by touching them with their welcome, their concern for their well-being, their trust, their authenticity, the sharing of who they are, of their deep faith, of their simplified inner life, focused on the Essential. What a source of mutual benefit, enrichment!
To serve is also to speak to the Lord about all the people we meet. It is to make up for one’s powerlessness in the face of physical, psychological and moral suffering. To serve is finally to be a warm presence, a benevolent smile, a compassionate look, a constant prayer.
In short, “to serve – to take care” is to love the weakened and sick person, it is to let oneself be loved by them, it is to love the mission of incarnating the Gospel of the Love of Jesus Wisdom.