Love is very important in our culture. The Beatles sang, “All you need is love, love, love is all you need” back in August 1967 which was one of the greatest selling records of all time. Amazon currently lists over 60,000 books with the word “love” in the title. I did a search on Google for the word “love,” I got back over 800 million hits.
But equally our culture has a poor understanding of love. Watch TV, check the internet, scan through magazines, and you realize that by and large most people’s understanding of love is based on the idea of a contract. Where the contract basically says, “I will love you, if you do that” and if any of the conditions are not met, the commitment is off. Real love, love which gives it self unconditionally is often seen in the acts of the carer.
The weekend marked the end of Carers Week. Audrey Jenkinson in her book ‘Past Caring’ suggest that if we could really choose our lives there would be a shortage of carers not because we don’t want to care for those we love but because if we could choose our lives we would choose one where our relatives and friends would not suffer.
If I think the caring situations I have encountered recently none would have chosen this role but all have done what they have done without a hesitation, and with a sense at least of duty, but more often out of love and with profound commitment.
The six thousand people who find themselves as new carers each day care because they care. The way they care grows. Like being a parent, you don’t start the job with every skill, every piece of expertise in place. You don’t care each day in a state of complete calm. It’s frustrating and frightening and challenging.
Carers Week speaks of the immense amount of love and service which carers show but Carers Week must also recognize that it is not easy, that it is emotionally draining, that there are times you wish you could stop and times you wish it wasn’t like this.
As a Christian I believe that we can only love with a lasting love if we are rooted in the love of God which is unconditional, God sets no limits on his love; God does not love by rule or statue; God does not love piecemeal or conditionally; God loves totally and completely, God loves each of us with an infinite and perfect love.
The love of God is patient and kind; it is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. God’s love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. The love of God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
For us to love, to care, we need to look after ourselves and find ways in which our love renewed and restored.
Carers Week is about rejoicing in care well given, it is about challenging when wider society takes advantage of carers rather than supporting them.
Carers have something profound to teach the rest of society. Faithful, loving and committed service of others is what builds out society. We must not take this for granted but be thankful for the over 6.5 million carers in this country.
John Patrick Roche
There is a story to be told.
It is a story of love.
It isn’t puppy love,
or the many-splendored love of years past.
It is lasting love: love over time.
but simply love of each other as partners.
Care is love.
Care of what was, what is and what will come.
We walk slower now, can’t see as before,
and hold hands for warmth and support.
Aging is not uniform or equal.
Time takes from each at its will and whim.
We pray first for the other partner to stay well, then our self.
Our bodies slow differently:
Alzheimer’s disease steals bit by bit the light of knowledge.
Nerve systems weaken and short-circuit, arteries clog.
One partner becomes the light,
another helps recognition.
The story is the carer.
Care given daily, constantly, wearily
shows lasting love.
“Until death do us part” is recalled while time flows onward.
Love becomes duty; honourable, enduring
How does one tell the story of lasting love?
I tell it by admiring the spouse pushing a wheelchair,
providing mobility and togetherness,
by applauding those who read to the other with dimming sight,
and by praising those who explain,
interpret and encourage loved ones
unable to remember their world.
Any lapses in the past are forgotten with today’s love;
A lasting love.