2012-06-14 / Church


(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)

Amazing Grace

Tess was an artist and a knitter. Beautiful paintings adorned her room. She donned a handmade sweater almost every day. She had a lovely smile, and a quiet, peaceful demeanor.

Tess suffered from Alzheimer’s. She was wheelchair-bound and could no longer feed herself or button her sweaters. “I don’t know” and “That’s nice,” were the only two intelligible phrases she uttered.

No matter what I did or said, Tess would simply sit there and smile sweetly at me. I wondered what life was like in her mind.

One day after reading scripture, I began humming Amazing Grace. Tess blinked, and soon she was humming too, perfectly in tune.

We hummed all the way through that famous hymn. She never took her eyes off my mouth. When we were done, she looked into my eyes and smiled. Then the blank look descended again.

I tried humming Amazing Grace again on my next visit. This time there was no response.

I learned an important lesson from visiting Tess: pay attention to this moment because something grand and glorious might happen.

When I don’t pay attention, I miss the many miracles occurring around me. If we notice them, we often cling to them. We attempt to duplicate them. We put great energy into reliving what is now past because we want that feeling again.

Such wonders are unique and fleeting. We can either appreciate them or be disappointed they seem to have flown.

I’m going to stop for a moment, hum Amazing Grace, and pay attention. Want to join me?

Thanks, Tess.

Gary Roe is the Chaplain of Southern Care Hospice and is interim Minister at First Baptist Church in Lexington

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