I finally got to swim. After locating the pool, getting there during open hours, purchasing the required bathing cap and necessary swim goggles, figuring out the rules about changing and showering, I slid into the water and began the familiar and comforting ritual of swimming laps. I had forgotten how good it feels for my body, brain and spirit.
One of my spiritual practices is to say my prayers as I swim. I usually start with the Lord’s Prayer, over and over again. And then, I pray for those who are on my mind. And then, about midway into my swim, I express my gratitude.
As we approach Thanksgiving, I have so much for which to be grateful. In no particular order:
- Countless family, friends, colleagues, parishioners, neighbours, and strangers who have offered so much kindness and compassion during the past year;
- Doctors who diagnosed and helped me come to terms with dementia;
- The opportunity to find meaning in my new chapter of living of with dementia and to share my learnings as a preacher and teacher;
- The hospitality of Dean Lucinda Laird and The American Cathedral in Paris, and our little apartment 62 steps up in a bell tower;
- The generosity of Bishop Pierre Whalen and the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe that have made possible my first preaching and teaching tour;
- Good Cause Creative for communications and social media support (and sponsors who provided the funding to make this possible);
- Judson Retirement Services’ commitment to provide the highest quality of care for people living with dementia;
- The people of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio who called me to serve as priest and pastor for the past 17 years;
- The people of St. James the Fisherman in Wellfleet, Massachusetts who renew my spirit each summer; and last, but most importantly,
- Emily Ingalls with whom I promised to share life “come hell or high water”
The Taoist teaches us to take nothing for granted but rather express our gratitude for all things, instructing: when we drink water, we are to remember its source. In a strange way, I am grateful for dementia that has opened my eyes and ears to the world, to myself and to God in a new way.
Thanksgiving will be different this year.
We are in a country that doesn’t celebrate this American holiday. I won’t watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the National Dog Show with the smell of a roasting turkey. But I will be grateful for all of my blessings.
And I intend to keep swimming. - Tracey