BY MARK MACKAY
Earlier this year, my dad died after battling Alzheimer’s Disease. While it has been a difficult journey, there have been some lessons I’ve learned through his passing that are important to our families.
First, spending time together matters. Social media and FaceTime are wonderful things but online, virtual platforms are poor substitutes for real, personal, embodied connections. Even when my Dad was having a bad day with his illness, it was the physical, personally, human interaction that brought him the most benefit. We need to be physically present with each other.
Second, the village matters. Personal, one-on-one, interaction is powerful. But so are the relationships we have in our own personal ‘villages.’ For me, my village is our Church and the love and support we have received during and since my Dad’s illness has been immense. For you, the village may be your neighbours, sporting club, work colleagues, etc.
But whatever that village is, don’t underestimate it. Invest into it when you have the capacity, lean into it when you have the need. Finally, celebrate and honour those people on whose shoulders you stand. There is no such thing as a completely self-made person. We are all the beneficiaries of someone else’s efforts. For me, my dad was a hard-working, generous, honourable man for whom I am grateful. I am who I am because of him. And I wish I had thanked him and honoured him more when he was still here. Take the time to honour the people on whose shoulders you stand.
What do all these lessons have in common? Community – the community of our family, our village and our forebears. God has wired us and our families to be in community. That’s why God said of Adam, “It’s not good to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18). Community is at the very heart of God and one of the main reasons why Jesus came, died and rose again was to bring us into community with God Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18),
In the busy-ness of our lives and society, don’t miss the vital importance of community for you and your family. Invest in it, cherish it, celebrate it, lean into it, enjoy it.