1998 PnusIDENr's ,{u,lm Racrprpt'{r

The Farmer's DonkeY: A Pastoral Fable
ne day a farmer'.s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old and the well needed to te covered up anwvay; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey. He invited all his neighbols to conrc over and help hirn. They all grabbed a shoveland beganto shoveldirt into the well. At first, the donkey realizedwhat was happening and cried horribiy. Then to everyone's amazement ouieted down. he A fcw sJrovel loadsIatcr,the Farmer finaily looked down into the weli. He was astonishedat what he saw. With each shovel of :,; 'ili clirt that hir his track, the donkey was doing sor.nething amazing. He up. worilcl shakc it ofl ancl trkc a stcl-r As thc fnnner''s neishborscotrtitruedto shovcl dirt on top of the animal, he wotrlclshakeit oft :rnd tal<e atrotherstep up. Pretty sootr, e\rcryoncr.vas ar.r.rrrzccl the clonkcy stcl-r;rec1 over the edgc of thc as Lrp r.vcll irnd happill'trotted ofil -Ihe Lilc is going to shovcldilt on you, all kinclsof dirt. trick to getting out of the well is to 'Wc sh:rkeit ofi ar-rd t:rkea step u;r. Irach of our troublesis a steppingstone. can gct out of the rvcllsjust by rrot stopping, ncvcl giving Lrpl Shakeit offand take a step up. cleepcst I{en-rember flve sirnple rules to be happ,v. the Freeyour heart of h:.rtrecl Forgive. Freeyour mind fi'om worries- most ncver happen. Live simply ancl appreciatewhat you have. Give more. Expect less."


There is more to the story sent to rne by Larue tVelch who has been part of our program for decades. I am ending the fable here to make a point or two relevant to the serviceof Care Team' members. I confessthat I look for inspiration and insisht about the nature of the human condition from a variety of sourcesboth sacredand secular.The fable of the donkey illustrated for me the resilience of some people as they find themselvesin a hole of weaknessand dependency or the inrrusive duties of caregiving. Peoplewho tend to triumph in the face of adversiq' seem to have a capacity to make the best of a bad situation, Iike the donkey in the fable. Some of the people Care ftam members serveseem to be optimistic about their present and future. Others seem to be pessimistic. If the donkey in the fable was pessimisticor fatalisric, it V o l u nh N o . l e, I probably would have been buried becauseit could not imagine how to overcome a bad situarion l a n L I2 0 1 1 ary ivith the resources had. An optimistic donkey, on the othe-rhand, assesses situation, identifies it its options that have uncertain outcomes,and acts in an effort to resistthe forcesthat threaten it. The I n t ea i lth r e P a r t n e r r ' fr a donkei's first shakeand step up did not guaranteeits escapefrom the hole; but it was a necessary Phone:b8l 7ll 59q5 'r: I step in making the best of a threatening situation. / 1 6 80 6 J 9 2 As we relate to care partners, they may speak of their mounding troubles. \fith each new g i n t o @ i n rh r aa ie p a r n e r \ . o r loss or set back, they get more mired down and incapable of identiS'ing any options. They truly e lr l Web Page: become victims in life. Fate takes control. They become paralyzed,in a sense,and unable to I www,irlliilaiihcaieparinen.org evaluatetheir situation or take any action. They seem able only to wait for the next loss to take a

Thestepsthey tahe
Tnaynot cbange the uhimate oatcorne of their journey, Th"y tmdlt hotaeuer, mahe their jowneE more bearable and


\/ The Farmert Donkey lives and destiniesas they are able. Continuedfom page 1 Our task as Care T.a- members is not to toll that buries them deeper in despair. make decisions for or take control of our care Care Team members can be drawn inro partners. Ours is a supportive and nurturing the despair and hopelessness care partners. of role as they strive for a better qualiry of life \7e can interpret each loss as a care partner's during a seasonof woe. \7e can and should step closer to total dependency and dearh. help them identify options as their situations Alternately, we can accept things that cannot change, but respectfully defer the decisionbe changed while assisting our care partner's making to them. \fle can encourage them to to identify and exerciseoptions that can help take the next step, but we cannot force them to them retain as much mastery over their lives take it. The stepsthey take may not changethe as possible. Having some control over one's ultimate outcome of their journey. They may, situation adds to a persont self-esteem. however,make their journey more bearableand A physie.i+nfri€nd-ll.ho-rAr€,rkcdin-+hespi€e --+neani*gful TrrL4[rrrSrqr; 'When prior to treating personswith cancer at M. D. threat after threat mounds up on Anderson Hospital laments that physicianstoo care partners, like the shovels of dirt on the "there often say, is nothing more I can do." This donkey, they may become overwhelmed and may be what the donkey in the fable might have sink into depression. They may feel helpless 'We said at the bottom of the hole and with each when they are not. can serveby reminding shovelofdirt tossedupon it. Physicians and the them of choicesand options they have but may donkey can give up and passively accept what not be able to see. In so doing, we empower comes. But the donkev acted differentlv. Care them to make decisionsand to act in ways that partners and team members can leam fiom the add meaning and purpose to their lives given donkey. Care partners can realistically consider the losses they have experienced. Helping care their situation and take one steDat a time toward partners to live with meaning and purposr a goal of keeping life meaningful and easier. one way to respect their personhood, affiht/ There is no guarantee of getting out of the hole. their value, add qualiry to their lives, and But eachstep,at least,helps them to mastertheir transform despairinto peace.

A Lament in Old Age
'Abandon A title for Psalm couldbe 71 Me Not in Old Age." ThePsalm a highlypersonal is recountingof an elderlyman'sfaithfulness to
God at a time of threaland a plea for God's deliverance. The words of the Psalmist have meaning for Care Team members who are present with people living under threats of varying types. It is clear that his enemiesare at hand who wish to take advantage of his weaknessin old age to silence his testimony of Godt righteousness. The plotters against him interpret his weaknessasa sign that he is abandoned by God. He calls upon God to rescue him so that he may continue to teach younger generations the nature of God; not so that he may simply live longer. There is a message in this Psalm for Care Team members. \7hen people become weak in old age and threatened by adversaries like disease and bodily decline, it is a time for rhem to be assured Godt abiding of presenceand source for strength. Care Team members are instruments of Godt presence and assistance. You are .manifesstions -of God's loyalty and love asyou abide with people "strength whose is spent," in the words of the Psalm. You are evidence that God is oresenr and comoassionatein seasonsof weaknessas a l in seasonsof strength. The perception that weaknessand vulnerabiliry are signs of Godt absence and neglect is countered by your ano support. Presence Another insight from the Psalm relates to living with purpose. The Psalmistwishes to be rescuedso that he may teach about God as he has throughout his life. Our care partners are teachers, as well. By their invitation to share life with them, we are learning from them ho-' to live faithfully in periods of decline. \7e 1 learning, ", *.i1, h# in our strength to fulhl/ our duties to love and servepeople who cannot totally care for themselves. Continued page on 4

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