Most of us have heard about patients of dementia, mute, not recognizing loved ones, maybe slumped over in a chair suddenly becoming animated and articulate, sometimes back to their former selves, even joining in, when a familiar song is sung or prayer recited.

The author of this Atlantic article points out not only that ritual does something for the dementia recipient, the “recipient of care” but that “At least for those few minutes, [the recipient of care] had become a human being capable of reaching out and caring for others, a beacon of light and joy to everyone.”

He goes on to suggest that “. . . unresponsiveness may say less about a patient’s disability than a failure on our part to offer something worth responding to.”

On this feast of light, Epiphany, let us think about those who don’t seem to respond to us the way we would like or fail to respond to us at all. Are we offering them something worth responding to? Also, what rituals are we cultivating in our lives today to which we might respond in our old age and through which be a beacon of light and joy to the world?

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