My second article for The Symbolic World blog.

How The Scientific Revolution Changed Our Worldview

Care House Memorial

An important thing to remember, whatever our views on these strange times, is to keep loving our neighbor. We’re still being called and send to others who need our help, in whatever way that we can provide it. These two pictures are from a care house where we held a memorial yesterday, and me as one of the spiritual caregivers. Paradoxically beautiful to do – candlelight, live music, poetry, memories. There where 40 roses that each symbolized a person in memory. Normally there would be around 20 of them. This shows the personal reality that lays itself out due to the coronavirus and other tribulations. I would argue that the implications on a bigger scale look similar. Like I said before, the crazy train is still far from the station, but we’ll get through this.

My first article for The Symbolic World blog.

Hold Your Ground To Be Crowned

Angels Project

Like a little present from heaven!

– Angels Project slogan

The Angels Project was a local community driven project developed and organized by Max and Andries, Spiritual Caregivers at Sensire. It took place in 2018 and 2019 during the month of Advent.

The goal of the project was to invite local people (i.e. elementary schools, churches, community groups, residents’ family, or anybody living nearby) to unite during the month of Advent by giving our residents gestural presents.

During the four weeks of Advent people were invited to bring little hand-made presents or written letter: anything they wished to create or tell. We distributed the presents each week among the residents of Sensire. The residents of Sensire have received these presents; the small lights in their living room, and the hand-made cards or ornaments.

During the distribution the residents were allowed to choose and unpack their present, which was an interesting process. There were moments of confusion: “Is that for me?” someone asked. “I don’t want anything.” someone else said. These moments challenged us to listen and talk because even rejection often expresses a certain desire or statement: “I’ve always given a lot so it’s difficult for me to receive something.” said the first person. “I’m satisfied with anything.” said the other person.

The Angels Project was developed in 2018 and took place at care home Den Ooiman for the first time. The second time in 2019 it took place at more locations of Sensire. Our reach and estimated participants involved are:

• De Garven. 25 angels from the child’s daycare.

• De Lindenhof. 30 angels with 120 presents.

• Den Ooiman. 180 angels with 540 presents. And 1000 cards from Indebuurt.

• De Heikant / Oldershove. 30 angels from the elementary school with 120 presents.

• Sydehem. 160 angels from the school and protestant church with 150 christmas handicrafts and 25 presents.

I’ve made a step-by-step plan and toolkit which anyone may use to develop their own project. Dutch spoken though, if you’re interested: message me via the icons below.

I find the angel to be a beautiful salute of love from human to human, even though you don’t know each other.

There is so much grief and worry between the walls of Sensire. Beautiful that I got the change to surprise someone a little.

I find it to be an inspiring idea, perhaps fun to start something alike in my own town.

– participants from 2018 and 2019

Life Story of Wilhelmina

Let Light and Air Enter Your Home

– The title of Wilhelmina’s life story, an anecdote from her mother.

A nurse told me one of our residents was distressed. Wilhelmina kept telling the nurses about her broken furniture: her table wheelchair and even a cabinet was supposedly broken. The nurse asked me to appease Wilhelmina and look at what could be fixed.

I went to her room, acknowledged her furniture and examined it, told her it’s gonna be fixed. I said that her table looked ancient and asked where she got it. She said she got it ages ago at a yard sale and has gotten it renovated a couple of times by someone in Rotterdam, an excellent carpenter. She loved it but the accompanied chairs got lost once she moved to the care home: so did most of her furniture and her books and plants.

After my visit I started thinking about our conversation. The nurse suggested that Wilhelmina might have early dementia because she kept talking about her past all the time. This is something that happens a lot and might mean that she’d move to another department. But Wilhelmina and I had talked quite extensively about her past and she had answered quite difficult questions. So I wondered what her question, behind the question about broken furniture, might be. I revisited Wilhelmina and quickly discovered that she had a strong desire to remember her own past and attend to it. She wanted to tell her life story to someone, but family wasn’t around and nurses are simply unable to spend hours listening and talking.

As a spiritual caregiver, I decided to visit her consistently to talk about her life. This has to be done within a framework though, through a method. I decided to document her stories by writing them down and by putting them in a book. Our two-hour-long conversations took place once a week in her room for about eight weeks. Wilhelmina drew a global lifeline encompassing all the big events of her life, then I structured our conversations as to cover each stage of her life. Then we talked and I wrote along, edited at home, thought of new questions, visited her again, and so on. We found an old photo album in her room and talked about each picture in it. Her vivid memory of each picture and the people in it was mind-boggling.

Each human life is fascinating and could be written down in a biography. Each life has ups and down, plot-twists and periods of clarity. Wilhelmina’s life too: her parents had survived two world wars, she survived one, she was a nurse in many places of The Netherlands, she has worked with tuberculosis patients and caught the disease herself as well, and she has traveled in real life and “through books”.

The most beautiful thing someone has ever done for me.

– Wilhelmina (age 92), on our conversations.

The product of our conversations is a biography filled with anecdotes and pictures, history of her family and the places she lived, stories untold now documented. The book is a gift for her family and herself but I have permission to share it with anyone who speaks Dutch and is interested: message me via the icons below.

Soon after we finished our conversations and I handed over the book, a mark of remembrance, attention… and acceptance, she passed away.

Thousands of Little Deaths

I hide you, I show you

I protect and hold you

I am thousands of little deaths

Which surround you

Still I beautify and glorify you

Still I grow

Lighter when you grow older

Perhaps I even disappear

Once your end is near

What am I?