Written by Bob Rendall, Chairman Faith in Older People
One of the great joys of my life has come as the consequence of working with key groups to set up projects that supported local people. The Stroke Club was set up with hands on support from a senior social worker. Members and their carers attended fortnightly to enjoy morning activities and lunch. Some would be transported in while others would make their own way from the villages around the country town. It was agreed that carers did not need to stay for the full programme but that if they needed to attend to some business or meet friends for coffee it would be fine. Carers always joined us for lunch and to help with planning future activities.
We were discussing Christmas celebrations when a member suggested that it would be good if I would lead a short carol service and talk prior to their departure. The idea was met with applause and I agreed. It would take place at our last meeting prior to Christmas and I duly prepared but wanted everyone to participate.
The theme would be the coming of the light and so I highlighted the passage from John’s Gospel, ‘The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ I then went on to read a passage from a Wilbur Smith book about diamond mining in the Kalahari. The book spoke about how the light of the fire caught the fragments of a diamond which had exploded in a myriad of colours when it had been struck by a hammer. There were nods as I alluded to Jesus coming as the Light and the thought that His shattered life had illuminated the lives of his followers just as the shattered diamond had illuminated the night.
In conclusion, the candle that I lit was passed to my social worker colleague who passed it onward to her neighbour. It took time but the candle wound its way around that little group, each stopping to hold the light for a moment or two before passing it on. That very special moment of a community truly in partnership has stayed with me and was further emphasised when one of the members brought in his tie pin to show the rest of the group at the next meeting. ‘This was the first nugget of gold that I dug up in the Kalahari,’ he said.
We commit a great injustice if we do not allow people to fully engage at their own pace, in their own time and place. Ours is not to deny but rather to facilitate.