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Published by: Interfaith CarePartners on Jul 03, 2012
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Care Links
Volume 16, No. 4July 2011Interfaith CarePartners®Phone: 713.682.5995Fax: 713.682.0639E-mail:info@interfaithcarepartners.orgWeb Page:www.interfaithcarepartners.org
Mending Fences
he adage ‘good fences make good neighbors’ is familiar to many people. You probably have spoken it. Tis bit of folk wisdom has a long history and use in varying contexts. Itbecame best known, probably, in the United States when Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall” became widely circulated in 1949, though the poem was written in 1914.Te meaning of the phrase appears self-evident. Tat is, a good fence separatesneighbors, inhibits intrusions into each other’s aairs, and marks the boundaries of individualresponsibility. Te phrase does not imply necessarily that neighbors are hostile to each other.Rather, the phrase may only suggest that conict is less likely if boundaries are known and respected.Te intended meaning of the line by Frost, however, is more ambivalent and debated by scholars. I am not concerned with those arguments. I am interested in the real-life context of thephrase to which it refers.Te poem refers to a wall or fence between neighbors that falls into disrepair due to wearfrom winter weather in New England. Stones in the fence would fall away. Gaps would develop in a wall that originally kept cows in. Te cows are gone now. But, winter and itsdamaging eects on the wall come each year. Repairs arerequired in order to maintain the appearance and, perhaps, tocontinue an annual ritual of neighbors meeting to repair thefence together. Accordingly, we can ask, ‘Does the wall or fenceseparate or bring people together?’I think Frost’s image of a broken wall being repaired isa metaphor for the service of Care eam
members. Te peopleyou serve are like the wall or fence. Tey have been strong andstanding on their own. Ten illness, memory problems, or wear and tear from age comes. Tey losestrength. Tey need shoring up.Like the neighbors who meet to repair a fence, Care eam members organize and meetpeople who are ‘breaking down.’ Illness and disability typically leads to isolation over time. As age,illness, or impairment progresses, a person tends to disengage from previous activities and time withfriends decreases. It takes discipline and eort by others to help a person facing adversity to stay connected to people and community. Care eam members do this as you serve.Your presence and assistance demonstrate that brokenness can be an opportunity to unite with others in service. Your care partner’s weaknesses and losses, like a wall in disrepair, are a call toGod’s people to befriend and defend people being pushed to the shadows of life because of physicalor cognitive decline. You cannot ‘x’ the problems of your care partners. You are powerless to putthe pieces back together. You can, however, overcome their isolation and bear witness to theirenduring value by being present. You can ‘ll in the gaps’ or ‘breakdowns’ in their capacities by lending a helping hand with daily tasks or giving family caregivers a break. You can fulll yourobligation as a person of faith to care for and comfort others during a season of woe.In light of these remarks, in what sense do ‘good fences make good neighbors?’ Is it thatthey keep us apart or bring us together? Tink about it. While we may grieve the fragility of bodies and minds, let us celebrate thecompassion that leads us to conquer our tendency to avoid brokenness. Let us celebrateour willingness to enter into situations of disorder and increasing separation. Let us be thevery best wall or fence menders we can be![I am grateful to Steve Barnhill for informing me of the context of Frost’s poem in life.I was not aware of the ambiguous meaning of the phrase previously. It seems to me that there ismuch more to be thought and said about this metaphor of a wall or fence.]
Calling Used/Broken CellPhones!
Bet someone you know hasa broken or old cell phone,laptop computer, iPod, Wii, Xbox, Play Stationor GameCube stashed in adrawer gathering dust andtaking up room. Did youknow that people changecell phones on averageevery 18 months? Peopleare increasingly mindfulthat discarded electronicequipment pollutes theenvironment. A betteralternative for unusedor broken equipment isrecycling. Maybe yourteam can sponsor a drivein your congregation.Collect all you can andgive them to your sta member from InterfaithCarePartners. Tey will berecycled. Te environment will be protected. Yourteam will be publicizedin the congregation. Teproceeds will benet ourcaregiving programs.Everybody wins, includingMother Nature. About1,350 phones have beenrecycled already.
 When I was a child beingraised in a Baptist home, now many decades ago, much of our family liferevolved around church. Services were Sunday morning and eveningand Wednesday night, visitationon Tursday, in addition to specialchildren and youth activities,including Vacation Bible School inthe summer. Once or twice yearly evangelistic meetings lasting a week or more helped to ll in the churchyear. Many of these aspects of church life have disappeared withthe passage of time.Te term ‘revival’ that was used for theSpring and Fall evangelistic meetings was a bitmisleading. I even remember that these meetingsoften were held in tents erected on vacant lots.I cannot recall if sawdust covered the ground,but it probably did. A visiting preacher calledthe ‘lost’ to repent and believe. He summonedfaithful ‘backsliders’ (some of you will know thisterm) to a more obedient and fervent faith. Teprimary purpose of these services was to convertpeople to faith. If believers were energized or‘revived’ in the process, that was a bonus.Maybe it is time for your Care eam
tohave a Fall Revival. Has membership fallen? Hasattendance at meetings waned? Has enthusiasmsagged? Has the team’s ‘get-up-and-go’ ‘got-up-and-gone’? Have team members becomecare partners in the passage of time? If so, itis past time to develop a campaign to recruitnew members and energize or ‘revive’ current
Old Time Religion in the Fall
members. Fall is a good timefor these renewal activities. Startnow to plan a campaign. Enlistthe help of your sta person fromInterfaith CarePartners.I remember dierenttechniques to ll the pews duringrevival meetings. Members would commit, for example,to ‘pack the pew.’ Tis meantthat they would be responsiblefor getting enough people to aservice to ll one or more pews.Maybe team members can bechallenged to recruit one or morefriends to the team as part of the campaign.Posters nailed to telephone poles were usedto publicize the revival services. Maybe teammembers can develop a publicity blitz in thecongregation’s media for a month or quarter.Personal testimonies of how faith made lifemore meaningful summoned the faithless to anew beginning. Maybe team members can tellhow they have been blessed by the care partnersthey have served.I tend to be very pragmatic when itcomes to strategies to keep a Care eam strongor to rebuild one. Whatever works is a rightcourse! Look at your team. How is it doing? Isthere need for growth or recharge? If so, investsome time in the remaining weeks of summerto plan an eective and uplifting campaign toimplement in the Fall. Make it fun and makeit inviting. Your success will bless you and yourcare partners.Does your current or former employer have a program that supports your volunteerrole with Interfaith CarePartners? ExxonMobil VIP Program and Chevron Humankind,for example, honor the volunteer service of employees and retirees, as well as their spouses,by making grants to the charity upon request by the employee, retiree, or spouse. ChevronHumankind will donate $500 for 20 hours and $1,000 for 40 hours annually for retirees andemployees. It also will match 1:1 nancial gifts of employees up to $5,000 annually and upto $2,000 for retirees. ExxonMobil VIP grants $500 for every 20 hours of individual service with a cap to the charity of $5,000 annually. eams of 5 employees, retirees, and spouses canrequest a grant for every 20 hours of collective time with a cap of $10,000 annually. If theseopportunities apply to you, please make a grant request for Interfaith CarePartners. Teseprograms are a wonderful and easy way for a company to honor your service and help thecaregiving programs of Interfaith CarePartners to remain strong and grow.
Time Can Be Money
Somehow I stumbled on an Internet web page that listed quotes of Muhammad Ali, a professional boxer who was WorldHeavyweight Champion three times. Ali was born in my hometown of Louisville,Kentucky 5 years before me. Our paths nevercrossed there or elsewhere, but we know people in common. How he started boxingand his success in the ring is just part of hisremarkable personal story.Humility about his pugilistic talent was not Ali’s trademark. He was a bigtalker with a quick tongue and mischievous wit. Others referred to him, at times, as theLouisville Lip. He referred to himself as ‘TeGreatest.’ His brashness about his prowess inthe ring is well known. His thoughts outsidethe ring are less known. Not all of the quoteson the web page I happened upon are of interest to me, but a few are. Tey revealsomething about Ali that might come as asurprise. Consider these observations andinsights from Ali.
Silence is golden when you can’tthink of a good answer.
Superman don’t need no seat belt.
 When you are as great as I am it ishard to be humble.
 We have one life; it soon will be past; what we do for God is all that willlast. Te statement that struck me asmore suggestive is “Te man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 wasted30 years of life.”It often takes adversity or somethingdramatic in life to prompt us to reect onhow quickly it passes, what is important andenduring, or how we should live. We learnlessons throughout our lives. Some are hardand some are easy. Many lessons that shapeus are related to our age at the time and eventsin our lives. Some hit us like a ton of bricks,others are barely noticed. Some change the way we live and think. Others make nodierence at the time.Tere is a saying that youth is wastedon the young. It may also be true that when we are young we are not very interested in
Insight From a World Champion
the wisdom we seem to gain after we reacha certain older age. I take this to be part of the point of Alis statement. Our perspectiveschange as our histories and experiences grow longer. Our days give us opportunities toreect and engage in introspection, both of  which seem to be elements of gaining wisdom. Ali’s implicit admonition seems correct to me. We ought not waste any year of life, much less30 years.Many of the people you serve are of an age when they look back; evaluate theirlives, the meaning of life, and their prospectsfor the future. Many would welcome havingconversations about these matters withtrustworthy, sensitive, and patient Careeam
members. You can encourage thesemeaningful conversations by what you say and do after a bond and trust have beenestablished. Your life can be enriched as aresult of hearing the life stories, observations,and perspectives of your care partners. Ask your sta member to conduct an in-serviceat a team meeting to give you tools touse that may elicit theseconversations with acare partner. Pleasedon’t waste these daysof relationships. Learnto practice reectionand introspection.Be open to gaining wisdom throughevery facet of yourlife, including therich opportunitiesin your relationship with care partners.
It oten takes adversity or something dramatic in lie to prompt us torefect on how quickly it passes,what is important and enduring, or how we should live.

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