Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s

Have You Ever Been Mooned by God?

By Eugene C. Scott

When Moses demanded to see God’s glory, God mooned him. This was not an insult. Nor an accident.

It’s an unusual–irreverent–but accurate translation of Exodus 33:23 where God answers Moses’ request with, “I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand until I’ve passed by. Then I’ll take my hand away and you’ll see my back.” Literally the text reads, “you’ll see my hinder part” or “backside.”

And some say God has no sense of humor.

Obviously all biblical references to God’s body parts are anthropomorphisms, God using human characteristics to communicate to us something about himself. God–as Spirit–has no hands much less a backside he could moon us with.

So, what’s God’s point in showing Moses his backside?

Like Moses, I too have yearned to see God. Those nights, days, hours, months where the cold, wet drizzle of doubt chills me to the soul, I get lonely–for God. Just a touch, just a glimpse even of his backside would make all the difference in the world.

During Lent our faith community is exploring ways to see God–or at least draw closer to him. We have discussed and practiced confession, making room for God, listening to God, silence and becoming servants. It’s been thrilling and challenging. God may have even mooned us a couple of times.

Today for example. A group of us partnered with a few students and teachers from Dakota Ridge High School (the school The Neighborhood Church meets in for worship) in a service project. Sixteen of us traipsed over to a senior living center and spent some time with several Alzheimer’s patients. All in different stages.

We each paired off with a woman patient in the room. We were to greet them with a smile, clasp their hands, look them in the eye, introduce ourselves, and eventually compliment them. We were to be present to them no matter how present they could be to us. I found myself talking with a woman laying back in a recliner, holding a pink piglet stuffed animal. She was deep in the disease, unable to respond at all. My heart sank.

Still I took her hand, I smiled, I introduced myself, I complimented her on her piglet doll. In return she drooled. Touching her shoulder, I prayed God would fill her and–though she could not hear me–speak to her between her damaged brain cells. That she would see God with the eyes of her soul.

Beyond our awkward silence, the room grew noisy as the students interacted with the other residents. I stroked her hand. Her skin moved under my hand but that was all. I fell silent.

I wonder what her name is, I thought. I turned and asked the woman in a rocking chair behind me. She thought for a moment, looked around and then shrugged. An aide walked by and I asked her.

“Crystal,” the aid answered hurrying by.

I turned back and again took Crystal’s hand. “Crystal,” I called out to her loud and sure.

At that she jolted, opened her eyes and in jerky movements squeezed my hand.

“Crystal, I love your piglet doll. I bet one of your grandchildren gave it to you.”

She jolted again and began chattering, if mumbling can be chatter. Now my smile was real. I understood not a word. But I didn’t need to. Later she held her milky eyes wide, tears filling the wrinkles on her gray face as the kids came by and hugged her saying, “It was good to meet you, Crystal.”

Unexpectedly, I saw God’s shadow there in Crystal’s fading face.

Like Moses–like Crystal–I ache to see God, his glory, his power, his healing: to hear his deep booming voice say, “Peace. All is well.”

If I could see God–I tell myself–then I could believe, live right then I could step out into some crazy God-idea like not worrying, or starting a church from scratch, or loving my enemy, or living by faith not fear, or–some days–getting out of bed.

Instead God moons me, shows me his hinder parts. Funny thing is that God’s hinder part may be all we can handle seeing this side of eternity. Moses didn’t seem to mind. And rather than an insulting high school prank, being mooned by God may be a fantastic privilege. Today he showed up in an Alzheimer’s patient.

Eugene C. Scott writes the Wednesday Neighborhood Cafe blog.  If you’re reading this on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com. Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO

Beginning on March 13–the Sunday following Ash Wednesday–we will begin a Lenten series titled “Embrace: Discover, Desire . . . Jesus” at The Neighborhood Church.  During worship we will explore those things of God we can embrace and add to our lives as a response of love to Jesus.  These worship gatherings will also include hands-on opportunities to practice these things God asks us to add to our lives.  Join us.  See tnc3.org for worship times.


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Looking Into The Eyes Of Eternity

by Deirdre Byerly

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, for what is seen, is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 2:18

This is the verse that Jesus dropped in my lap nine years ago at Lent. It seemed very mystical to me, after all, how does one see the unseen? I asked a godly friend, Lori, how she thought this could be accomplished and she suggested prayer and meditating on scripture. I thought, yeah, yeah but I’m doing that and I still don’t get it.

The old Bruce Cockburn song came to mind, “looking for eternity, some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me.” Well, while I was trying to wrap my brain around eternity, something else had a hold on me and it wasn’t ecstasy. What my eyes were fixed on, what filled my view like a big screen TV, was my dad. He had Alzheimer’s and had been doing a slow disappearing act for six years. Watching him lose his very good mind bit by bit was excruciating. The gently sloping hill Dad had been descending was now transformed into a black diamond run he was careening down out of control. Eating, breathing, walking, sitting were all becoming challenging.

Once or twice a week I’d give my mom a break and have Dad spend the day with me. I’d always assumed I was up to whatever the disease dished out but as Dad’s needs increased I wasn’t so sure. When, during this time, my father-in-law who was also in failing health came to spend a week, my prayer was: are you kidding me? Fortunately, I had friends who were praying for me.

One bleak morning as I sat at my kitchen table praying, hoping for a vision of the eternal, I heard, “It’s the suffering, Stupid.” Okay, I know that when God speaks it’s supposed to be lofty — James Earl Jones speaking King James English. However, on that day it wasn’t Shakespearean or ethereal. Jesus needed to remind me that as long as I was on this planet there’d be suffering. With all the comforts of 21st century American life, in between the heartaches, it was easy to forget. For the early church, it was a given. Follow Jesus – go to jail; follow Jesus – get thrown to the lions; follow Jesus – get crucified.

Towards the end of Lent, Dad had a massive stroke. Sitting at his bedside as he died was painful. Each time I entered the hospital, I thought, I can’t do this. I could muster only the shortest prayer: help. Fortunately, God kept showing up, too. His response to me was what it was to St. Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Sometimes it was in a hymn we’d sing as a family or a passage of scripture or a chapter from my favorite book, “Peace Like a River.” At times the Spirit of God was so thick in the room it was almost visible. There was nearly a hue, a texture to it.

The few times my dad’s eyes would open, he didn’t seem to see us. He’d reach his left hand out as though he was trying to grab onto something above the bed. One of us would take his hand and tell him how much we loved him. It didn’t take long for us to realize he wasn’t reaching for us at all — he was reaching for his savior. His vision was no longer clouded by all the temporary clutter, but fixed on eternity. The ecstasy of eternity had a hold of my dad.

When my dad drew his last breath, shrugged off his useless body and slipped out of this world and into the next, I saw eternity as closely as you can from this side of it.

Funny, I’d begun Lent looking for eternity in a philosophical way. I’d wanted to share in Christ’s sufferings in theory. But God had a better, if harder, plan. My human effort at reaching out to God was small and yet, he mercifully drew me close and allowed me to glimpse eternity.

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Deirdre Byerly attends The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado. For Lent, various people from their community are contributing to a daily Lenton e-devotional. On Mondays for the rest of Lent, we’re going to share with you some of their thoughts and insights.

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