It is a difficult experience to shift from being cared for to being the caregiver. I’ve talked to many people who had to make this shift suddenly with their parents. In the best of circumstances, becoming the caregiver can be a challenging time. We either are young enough to care for those who are younger than we or old enough to care for those who are older. I had lunch with my own parents recently, and I am grateful that they are doing so well considering they are in their mid-80s, and considering I am moving even further away from them.
While it might be wonderful to take care of a few and then, years from now, be able to care for the many, that doesn’t seem likely. What we end up with is a time when we must shift from being the child to being the parent, from being the person cared for to being the one who cares.
In the end, we all must spend our lives loving and caring and taking care of one another. If we are Christian, it is our responsibility, ultimately, to care for those who are not able to care for themselves.
I am most blessed because, despite being past the age when most people’s parents are gone, mine are alive and well. That is a great gift, but they, of course, still want to be the caregivers when the time has come when my brothers and I should be caring for them.
That may be a parable for the Christian life. While each of us may feel like we still are in a stage of life where we can be cared for, what would happen if we suddenly took responsibility for life? What if we shifted from being life’s guests to being life’s hosts?
This is the place in which most of us find ourselves, but the question is if we will take responsibility to serve the larger potentiality for others. Why is this so hard? The call of Jesus, it seems to me, is for each of us, and all of us, to be responsible humans, the ones who are the hosts, the servants, and the caregivers. If we do not understand what it means to fulfill that role then we have missed the point of what is means to be the servant of God and one another.
Rev. Michael Piazza