“I make a weekly visit to a nursing home about an hour away. I have a dear parishioner who has been in that place, or similar places, for about eight years. Our conversations center around the past week, her life and mine, with occasional forays into deeper matters. One of the difficulties of life in a nursing home is the sameness: one day differs little from another, making time seem to stand still and become interminable. It’s like Ground Hog Day, only you keep waking up in a nursing home.
I have been around nursing homes for about forty years. It’s a normal part of a priest’s life. Usually, those who are there are in a somewhat steady state of decline. It is rare to see someone still thriving after eight years. Most often, ministry in that setting is focused on end-of-life issues. It is also a place of deep ascesis.

What is left when all of the goals and daily chores of life are stripped away? For many, that kind of loss is an entry into depression and worse. Getting out of bed in the morning is often made possible by the simple fact that we have a reason to do so. Depression can leave a person trapped beneath the covers, unable to connect with the demands of the day, overwhelmed and alienated. But when nature itself, whether through age or accident, has taken away most of the matters that give us pleasure, or even the sense of accomplishment, pushing depression back and making a daily effort to live can require an ascesis of the deepest sort.

Over the years, my experience has been that the primary reason for failing to take an hour or two to “listen” or pray have to do with my own willful avoidance rather than the demands of daily routine. Somehow, the appointment with God is all too easily bumped for something “more pressing” (or some such excuse). As things wind down, my excuses keep diminishing. I sit. I listen. I hear, ‘Slow down. It’s ok.'”

~ Glory to God in All Things Blog