“To all of you, I repeat: Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! And not only that, but I say to us all: let us not rob others of hope, let us become bearers of hope!” - Pope Francis
I really can’t tell the story of our book, “Seasons of Caring: Meditations for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers” without first telling the story of ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s and the Faith United Against Alzheimer’s Coalition, as they are the result of the following loosely connected series of events.
Like many others, I was away from organized religion for many years. Late in 2009 a neighbor invited me to attend Sunday services with her. I had just reluctantly and painfully moved my husband to an assisted living facility.
Early the next year George and Trish Vradenburg launched their non-profit, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. I was immediately drawn to their bold vision of stopping Alzheimer’s by 2020 and joined them as a founding member of both the Activists and Women’s Networks. Over the next few years, I came to believe that a network of interfaith clergy would offer an important and powerful voice in our efforts to advance better care, prevention, and ultimately, a cure for this merciless disease.
In 2014 UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Director Ginny Biggar and I set out to create ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s and were quickly joined by an amazing team of passionate volunteers: Max Wallack, Rabbi Steven M. Glazer, Rev. Dr. Richard L. Morgan, and Dr. Daniel C. Potts.
We initially hoped to recruit about 20 interested clergy to be founders; but in just 4 months, we had over 110 founding members and went on to recruit additional clergy, laity and faith organizations.
With our interfaith network in place, it was Dr. Potts who suggested the idea for a book of meditations with these words, “Here is something to think about...” Literally, overnight, our thoughts melded into this project with an outline, a book title, original artwork, and a strategy for implementation; and in 5 months we published “Seasons of Caring.”
Our book was written to offer hope, encouragement, compassion and empathy to those on the difficult journey of caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
The book is organized around themes and metaphors of seasonal transition, with each of the four seasons paralleling the various stages of life. The 141 entries open with quotes from scripture, sacred text or other inspirational text. The original writings by seventy-two authors representing a great diversity of spiritual traditions range from thoughtful meditations to poignant personal stories, moving poems and meaningful songs. Each is followed by a prayer and words of comfort and encouragement.
We are grateful to our authors, caregivers themselves, who so generously gave of their time, experience and counsel.
The words of Pope Francis bear repeating as they well describe the intent of ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s and “Seasons of Caring”, “Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! And not only that...let us become bearers of hope!” Visit www.SeasonsofCaring.org to learn more about our mission and work, and to find resources for faith communities, including sermons, books, programs, and actions you can take that will help us defeat Alzheimer’s.