Fill your mind with good memories

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Noah, are you asleep?" the wife asked her husband, bedridden in a nursing home.

The question came about as I was visiting Noah one afternoon. After talking with his wife, Emma, I attempted to converse with him. He especially needed our company, so I walked over to his bedside and said, "You're just listening to us, aren't you, Noah?"

We often teased that he knew more secrets than any of those who visited him because he usually kept quiet while people talked with Emma. Occasionally, though, you would hear Noah chime in from his bed expressing his opinion on the subject you were discussing.

I have found that sometimes Noah merely wants someone to listen.

"I'm just thinking," Noah said.

Rather than brush off what he said and proceed on with general conversation, I saw this as an opportunity to draw him out and hear what someone who's in bed all day, except for mealtimes, does to fill his time.

Noah is to the point he seldom enjoys television or reading. "Oh," he said, "I've got an awful lot on my mind."

My thoughts: "How can someone who has little to worry about except his health -- which is sometimes enough -- have a lot on his mind?"

All Noah's major needs are currently met.

"Well, tell me what's on your mind, Noah," I said. "What are you thinking about?"

He replied, "The past."

I was prepared to truly listen to everything Noah had to say. A while ago, especially when no one else was in the room, Noah would candidly open up and express himself. However, since this was not case that day I offered, "You know, Noah, you have a lot of good things to think about from your past. You were always a good man, never failing to help anyone who needed your help. You've done a lot of good during your life." I added, "You should have few regrets to worry about."

Everyone must fill his mind with something. If he has good and positive memories to dwell on, he is much happier and content than if he harbors a multitude of grudges, regrets for former happenings and feelings of having hurt others.

I usually have a lot on my mind because I am active with family, work and interests. People usually fail to think about the time when they may be unable to continue their lively existence.

What will fill their minds? It is to be hoped when we can no longer aggressively contribute to life we can fill the space inside us with strong, vigorous remembrances of an earlier time filled with love. We can recall what we've done to help make the world a better place through using whatever gifts God has given us -- memories that we did our best at the time with the resources we had available.

We can fill our minds and hearts with assurances that there are many who hold us dear. Above all, we can be appreciative of the good that's occurred, both past and present.

When you look around, you see so many awesome reasons to be grateful that you know there has to be a God. God is found in the past, present, in joy and especially in times of hardship.

If you're still in good health and living an enthusiastic lifestyle, take the time to evaluate and reflect on your life. Attempt to build good memories for your pleasure now and when you may be unable to do anything but recall and dream.

Try to mend any regrets you have and endeavor to be a blessing to those with whom you meet and interact. Then some day you too can say with confidence, as Paul did, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (Timothy 4:7)

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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