Category: Alison Marshall's Column
Created: Thursday, 09 February 2006 00:12
Published: Thursday, 09 February 2006 00:12
Written by Alison
Every Thursday afternoon, I go to visit my mum, who lives in a home. She has Alzheimer's disease and the home specialises in taking care of people with dementia. I know that there are frightening stories about the way these people are looked after in institutional care. That's the thing about the place where my mum lives. It is such an amazing place that it banishes all thought of frightening stories. The home has about 35 residents and it has the atmosphere of a big house with lots of people living there. It isn't institutional at all.
The owners, a lovely couple in their 30s, have consciously created a large family, and the extraordinary thing is that they have been successful. Mum's home is a place that I would like to take Abdu'l-Baha to visit. I believe that he would love it. I believe that he would say, "The spirit lives here." The place is full of joy, laughter, activity, acceptance, understanding, patience and love. It is as if the staff, residents, and visitors are all one. The staff chat away to each other and to the residents and visitors, which generates a lot of energy, and the residents always feel a part of what's happening. When I visit my mother, I help the staff out. Sometimes I am the only one in the room to see something happening, such as a spilt cup of tea, and it is important that I act. Over the years, I have come to know the other people who live there and have an idea of the sorts of things they need help with.
Because of the atmosphere in the home, I quickly learned to forget myself and to have extraordinary exchanges with the residents who can hold a conversation. They say priceless things. Today, for example, one lady was feeling a bit down to it. It is difficult for the residents because they can't go off the property. They have a wonderful garden that they can walk in, but some of them are aware that they are locked in. This lady looked at me and, an intense way, said: " I got to the frontier of Timbuktu... and then I found myself here! Everything has gone wrong", she lamented. I laughed out loud. She had no idea how funny her statement was.
I thank Baha'u'llah that he created a such a wonderful place for my mum to live out the rest of her days. Although she is confused all the time, nevertheless she is content within herself and she is often happy just to sit and watch everybody doing their thing in the lounge. It's interesting because you can see in the residents the way that heaven and hell work. In one sense you could say the residents are all in hell because they have dementia, but that would be a superficial assessment of the situation. Overall, my mum experiences contentment and I believe she is already in heaven. But there are other residents who suffer from depression. One woman cries much of the time and there is nothing you can do for her. I think that's hell. The residents seem to gravitate to a state within them that dominates their mood and state of being. It is very important that we do what Baha'u'llah asks and find contentment at the deepest possible place within us because this is the state that will one day determine the reality we experience in the next world.
Baha'u'llah devoted a whole tablet to discussing the importance of finding contentment. It is called the City of Radiant Acquiescence. Here are the links to it.
24-minute MP3 audio of Mark reading the City of Radiant Acquiescence
The text for the tablet is at http://www.whoisbahaullah.com/Alison/radiant.html.
My introduction to the tablet is at http://whoisbahaullah.com/blog/?p=222