Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What to say about the elderly, whom I visit on a regular basis at a retirement home named The Redwoods. Here is a poem about visiting the elderly.

I visit them in the nursing unit for those who are limited and even sick or very elderly, and in the personal care unit, where they can get along with help. Today's poem reflects how important our years are to us, our lives, and that remembering youth and younger years helps with living a long life.

That's my opinion, though not scientific, it is poetic.

Conversation with aged...(2002)
by Peter Menkin

Speaking with old ones
tells me to pray for myown youth.
I recite a long Psalm,119,
beginning as a confession

but lending my thoughts
and opening my heart to childhood.

Be gentle to memory, for failure
to seek God, and desire good
creates a long list of weakness
and mindless concerns that ignoreGod--
for so many years.

The old ones I talk with speak
of their youth, and I think"
Is this what is on their minds?"
So I soothe and open my heart
to let in healing to younger times

in my life. Even to childhood.
I say words for them,
for others.
It is in the thought before the words,

in the mind before the thought,
present in the heart, and I listen
always desiring to hear.
This talk with old people
leads me to gentleness with myself.

This is their message.
They say to me, "I am living
so long. I hardly think about it."

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I have been doing volunteer work visiting the elderly for a number of years (almost thirteen now). I consider it a ministy of friendship with the elderly, all of whom I had never before met. I have gone to different nursing homes, and care units or health units. Most frequently I meet people in their room and we talk. This all is done here near where I live, in the same county. I spend about six hours a week doing volunteer work in this area.

Note about the photographs: The photos of flowers were taken in British Columbia, Canada and Western Washington State by my brother Michael. As for the communion table, it was taken by an Oblate called Benedictsraven. The picture of me, Peter Menkin, was taken in Seattle, Washington at a park by Michael Menkin. The view out the monastery window is also by benedictsraven and is of Camaldoli in Italy as is the communion table. The path is also by Michael Menkin and like others in this series used to illustrate the blog was taken in British Columbia, Canada.

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