Rev.  Jan Bihl
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Just 4 days before we arrived in Carman, Manitoba to visit my 102-year-old Mom, she had been moved into a brand-new care home…and she did NOT want to be there.  Vehemently so. The change had taken only a few hours but the transition was going to take more than time. What would that “more” be?

The new care home stands right next to the old building where Mom had lived contentedly for several years in a room with a roommate (her preference). The new place has been designed with a whole different concept in mind. Rather than a rectangular design with rooms lining long hallways, the new concept features pod-like “houses” with 10 one-person rooms built around a large central space (like a “great room”) where residents eat their meals together, but also can go at any time for coffee and conversation with other residents. The Residents Assistants (aka Health Care Aids) work from this central space. The residents all share the central open space as their living/dining room with coffee/tea always available, nooks and crannies to sit together and visit, space for shared activities, and patios leading to fresh air space. 

All well and good. Unless you don’t want to be there! 

Thankfully, the Love of God was/is at work, as always, in many ways to help Mom and other residents make this transition. 

Caring, diligent staff and compassionate housemates, family visits in-person and with FaceTime. Music. Gerhard played the guitar and harmonica and Mom along with one of her housemates who has a wonderful singing voice, sang to the words of much-loved hymns  A staff member came in and played the piano so that people could sing some all-time favorite folk songs. What took it to a completely different level, was playing cards!  It’s been a looooong time since Mom has played cards, but it took only about 15 seconds for her to get on board! It was a joy for us to watch her come alive.

The unseen factor was the attitude of the housemates and care workers. Mom had a difficult time with the change and was very vocal about it, which is uncharacteristic of her. And yet…her housemates and the care workers did not speak of that. I know, hard to believe. Rather, there was an air of grace. We heard things like, “We love your Mom. She is having a hard time with this, but your mom is loving, positive, brings a smile…” 

In the midst of change, there was/is a loving Presence at work, loving thoughts from her housemates, building up rather than tearing down, encouragement. All without denying the difficulty and struggle of this move for both residents and staff. That touched me deeply and reminded me how important our thoughts and our words and our prayers are, even though they are often unseen or shared only with a very few.

3 ½+ years ago this congregation sang ourselves out of the building at Marmont and King Albert at final Worship service in that location. “Guide me, O, Thou Great Jehovah” was our sung prayer as we walked out the doors. Change has been the norm since then. Just think about it!  

Change is when something outside us shifts. Change is going to happen. Sometimes we have some control over the change, sometimes we even choose it, but mostly change happens outside our control. Transition is the reorientation we need to make in response to the change. It includes our inner experience…our thoughts and feelings…from fear to loss, to anger, to confusion, to uncertainty, to hope, to creativity, to fresh purpose, and so on. Change can happen on short or no notice. Transition can take time, but more than that, healthy transition takes faith. 

Faith is about deepening our relationship with God, as we navigate change and transition in a way that brings us and our community alive. Transition is where we have agency because we have an advocate, a teacher, another comforter, a counsellor, as Jesus called the Holy Spirit…who walks with us, guides us and correct us, comforts us and confronts us…with a love and peace and grace that goes beyond our understanding, yet, when allowed, fills our being and overflows. And that changes everything. 

Blessings,
Rev. Jan