Living in the Moment

What a Benedictine nun with Alzheimer's reminded me about life and God

I help care for a Benedictine Sister at Our Lady of Peace Monastery who has Alzheimer's. Sister Jane is 87 years young. I'm not sure when her Alzheimer's began, but I've witnessed the progression of it over the last few years.

I found this peaceful monastery, and the group of Benedictine sisters who live there, in the middle of a personal crisis in my life. Feeling weak, weepy, and worried, I instinctively knew that reaching out to others may help me. So you see the initial motive was selfish. Help others, help yourself. And I needed so much help.

Each week the sisters asked me to sit and play cards with Sister Jane. This seemed to occupy her mind and kept her from drifting off to the "Where am I?" "What am I doing here?" Questions and worries that she was prone to.

Kings is the Corner—that's Sister Jane's card game. She knows it well, even though each time I deal the cards she asks what we're playing. When I tell her Kings in the Corner, she always replies that she doesn't know how to play that game. I reassure her that I'll show her how. And like clock work, after the first cards are laid on the table she "goes to town" and beats me every time!

Sister Jane lives in the present moment of the card game. She plays her dealt hand to the best of her ability. She doesn't worry about what card she'll pick up next. Or for that matter what card I may lay down or pick up. Neither of us can predict what card we'll draw next. Will it be the king we need in the corner? Like our lives we don't know the next card we'll be dealt, so we must play the hand we have, play it to the fullest, enjoy it and play it well. That's how Sister Jane attacks this card game. That's how she's teaching me to live my life.

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May 25

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