"I See the Light of God in You"

by Pastor Heath Howe, Family Ministries

"I see the Light of God in you.  The light of Christ comes shining through, and I'm so glad to be with you.  Oh holy child of God."

Those are the words to one of our regular songs sung in chapel each week.  The song sounds like a lullaby, sort of soft and gentle.  There are hand motions that accompany the song, and at one point all gathered hold hands.  For the younger ones, singing and moving at the same time takes a bit of practice, but eventually all sing beautifully to one another.  At those times the chapel is filled with grace and the clear presence of Christ.

I always wonder if the children realize this song can be sung to anyone they know.  It can be sung in their hearts to themselves throughout the day as a way of reminding them of whose they are.  The song does not need to be sung only in chapel.  It can, and must, be taken outside.  It is a song that can inform how they live.

But do they understand that?

At the end of October I believe I got my answer.  Father Hull and I joined two Holy Comforter (and ATB&B) families at Symphony, an assisted living facility in Evanston.  Traveling to Symphony is a part of the new ministry we have created called Caring Across the Generations.  This ministry strives to provide places where families and seniors can come together to build friendships, to serve one another, and to pass along our faith.  The Sunday we had at Symphony achieved all of that.

When we arrived we were told we would spend our two hour visit with residents of Symphony who live with memory loss.  The level of the loss varies among all, but dementia is a common thread.  We were told there would be two groups.  One would play bingo and the other a variety of games using balloons and soft toys.  Our leader was gracious and helpful in explaining how to relate to someone with dementia and that we need not worry or be anxious.  

I held his advice in my heart and looked at the four children (two in each family present) and noticed their ages.  The children present ranged from three to eight.  Would they know how to handle the experience we were inviting them into right now?

Not only could they handle it, but they in many ways led it. At first they wanted their parents to accompany them in meeting a resident, but not for long. Quickly, our five-year-old was not only helping one lady with her bingo card but two. I noticed how tenderly one of our third graders looked into the eyes of a woman decades older than she and how she never tired of showing where to place her chip on the card. I watched a young father and his two children toss a balloon back and forth to a number of residents. The laughter of the three-year-old could be heard in the next room and at times it was joined by the giggles of a woman in her eighties.  One of the young fathers and his son read a book about baseball to a group and all the seniors smiled and smiled as they listened. Throughout the two hours I noticed how carefully a young mom modeled for her daughter how to engage with someone much older than she.  I listened to one child's grandmother explain how to help someone in a wheelchair. Residents thanked the children and their families again and again for spending time with them.  Smiles were exchanged, hands held, and love shared.  In every way our four chapel children (and their parents) were singing the chapel lullaby as they engaged with the residents we met.  No song was literally sung, but it was lived out in every action: they saw the love in each other.  The light of Christ shone between them.  They truly were glad to be with one another.  For two hours, time stood still, as these holy children of God, some young and some old, passed along their faith, served one another, and spread love.
We have much to be thankful for at Holy Comforter.  The month of November is the time to stop and give thanks.  When I think back on my Sunday at Symphony my heart swells and all I can say is, "Thanks be to God!"