Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Spiritual Dementia

Only some will develop dementia of the mind.

We all have the propensity to develop dementia of the spirit.

In the clinic I frequently see elderly patients who are at various stages of dementia. On the surface, they can appear with it and carry on a basic conversation. But when I dig just a bit, it's evident they have a degenerative process of the mind. One of the hallmarks of dementia is short term memory loss. When asked, patients suffering from dementia don't know where they are, the date, or the year. They won't be sure where they live or who they live with. They may not know what medicines they are on, or when they last saw a loved one. In advanced stages, dementia patients are prone to wander and go missing. Dementia is a troubling disease for the patient, and a heart wrenching condition for the family caring for their loved one. Family members will try in vain to get their loved ones to remember certain persons, places and events. Such attempts typically end in exasperation for the patient and frustration for the family member.

Unlike Alzheimer's or the other brain disorders, we are all prone to spiritual dementia. We have the propensity to develop short term memory loss, but it's a different type of loss. We forget who we are, whose we are, how we should think, be and act. We forget our purpose in life, and what we should live for. We forget how to be kind, patient and forgiving. We forget what it means to love our neighbor, often the person closest to us. We're prone to wander from the ones we love. Such memory loss leads to broken hearts, relationships and families.

There is no effective treatment for physical dementia. Thankfully there is one for spiritual dementia: communion.

Communion with one another in worship. Communion with our maker. In our spiritual dementia, we are prone to look inward. Communion prompts us to look up. Look up to the One who sustains us, loves us, and gave himself for us. Gratitude issues forth. In the act of worship, in the partaking of communion we are reminded of who we are, whose we are, how we should think, be and act. Our spirit is revived. The degenerative process of our spirit is reversed.

Like physical dementia, spiritual dementia is progressive. The longer we stay away from communing with one another in worship of our creator, the more demented we become. Like our elderly demented, we become almost unrecognizable, an empty shell.

To heal spiritual dementia or to prevent it from developing, seek out a place where communion is celebrated. Bend a knee. Lean into the spoken word and turn the eyes of your heart upward. In humility receive the gift of giving thanks.

"Do this in remembrance of me."

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