One of my favorite go-to activities with residents is singing and playing music with them, either on my ukulele or my violin, and sharing music from Apple Tunes on my cool little Bluetooth speaker. They love that little speaker! Frederick Buechner talks about how we can discover our mission or life purpose by looking for the place where our passion and the world’s deep needs intersect. When we find ourselves in that place of intersection, we may be getting close to doing God’s will for us. I think musical expression is one of those places for me, even though I am not a trained musician.
Yesterday, after the Rockford gang of 20 or so residents finished their Bingo time, the activities assistant welcomed me to come in and share some music with the group. We sang some songs together, and I took some requests for recorded music they wanted to hear. Minutes flew by and soon it was time for “Move and Groove,” led by Karen, an aide. Turns out, the speaker and the Apple Tunes was just what we needed to get Move and Groove going. I found Cool and the Gang’s song, “Let’s Groove Tonight,” and Karen and Dorothy started taking the group through some movements to the beat of music. Next we played, “Get Down on it,” and then “Celebrate,” also by Cool and the Gang. All the while Dorothy, Karen and I were dancing around the room encouraging the residents to move their arms and legs. Everybody had a smile on their face, while some were focused intensely on continuing their moves. After about 20 minutes it was time to give everybody a rest, and get ready for lunch to be served.
Then the president of the resident council waved his hand and said, “Ms. Whit! Can you close with prayer? We need to pray together.” I said sure, and asked residents to share their prayer concerns, of which there were many. We prayed for healing for various beloved relatives, and we asked God to bless one resident who was about to graduate from therapy. We gave thanks for each resident and each and every person providing care at Rockford. After the group said Amen, the council president said he had one more thing to say. “I want to say that we know we aren’t perfect, but we all need to do our best to treat each other good, to be good to each other. Let’s work on that!” “Amen!” shouted another elder, and she added, “We have to love another and treat each other like we all want to be treated. We’ve got to do that! All of us!!” Everyone shouted Amen and we proceeded to get ready for the meal.
I rejoice to work in a community like Rockford, where the residents feel and express a sense of ownership, and have a desire to work together to build a strong fellowship with each other. It occurs to me that in a way, our residents are modeling for all of us how we can strive to build a stronger team, by remembering how important it is to simply love one another and treat each other as we would like to be treated. The residents at Rockford strive to live by the Golden Rule. May all of us be inspired by their leadership, and strive to do the same.
-Chaplain Whit Stodghill