A group of friends were sitting around the kitchen table visiting. There was commotion in another part of the house. “It’s okay,” the homeowner sighed. “That’s my dad. He sees someone in the mirror and starts a conversation, then gets frustrated when he can’t hear the person talking back and yells louder. He doesn’t recognize his own reflection anymore.” Her father had Alzheimer’s disease.
July is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s attacks the brain; it’s the most common form of dementia. One of the most familiar signs of Alzheimer’s disease is memory loss, a general disconnectedness to self or to others.
We may not suffer from Alzheimer’s, but haven’t we all at times felt disconnected? When we feel detached from a bigger story, we become egocentric. We see ourselves as the center of our own universe. And when we begin to think that the whole meaning of the world is found in our own little story, we can easily become overwhelmed. Those big life questions – Who
am I? Why am I here? – fill us with worry. We feel as if we are carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. That’s when we must heed the Master’s call: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11: 28)
When we rest in Jesus, our lives regain balance. We reclaim our sense of identity because we understand our place in salvation history. Knowing where we come from grounds us and gives us hope for the future. “I know mine,” Jesus tells us, “and mine know me.” (John 10: 14) Indeed, he tells us that “before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” (Jeremiah 1: 5)
This sense of belonging is a human need, just like the need for food or shelter. Perhaps that’s why Twitter or Facebook or other social media abound; people really are just searching for a sense of community. Science tells us that a sense of belonging to a greater community improves our motivation, our health, and ultimately our happiness. Faith suggests that connecting with something greater than ourselves is what gives life meaning. Saint Augustine of Hippo said it best: “Our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
St. Francis de Sales Parish Catholic Church
40 Granville St.
Newark, Ohio 43055