Posted 3/19/21 (aka 3+19=21)
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:17b-3/19
Hi all! Happy Friday to each and every one who has taken a seat at the digital cornbread table this fine day! 🙂 The news semi-headlines made me think of mom a little yesterday and I thought it might be a nice topic for today. Here is the headline:
Historical inaccuracy aside from the headline (their fact checkers were too busy chasing politicians and former politicians to check), this was exciting to say the least. The Dead Sea Scrolls have always been an interesting topic for me. As a matter of fact, my summer before I got married was spent in Israel with my university working in Caesarea Philippi (Banias). I worked VERY hard M-F there in this dig. The weather was hot and the work was savagely hard. On the weekends, though, I toured the nation by bus and/or shared taxi and saw the majority of the important tourist sites. I did, however, miss out on Bethlehem and Nazareth because of civil unrest. I did spend significant time in Jerusalem and wandering the desert in the Dead Sea area, including the area known for Qumran, the home of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here is my picture with the primary cave (one of many) in the background:
One of the verses noted in this remarkable fragment comes from Nahum 1 and reads: “The mountains quake because of Him, And the hills melt. The earth heaves before Him, The world and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before His wrath? Who can resist His fury? His anger pours out like fire, and rocks are shattered because of Him.” Amazing!
One of the cool parts of this trip was that I was allowed by the Department of Antiquities, who was deeply involved in our dig, to bring home a lot of fragments, shards, and other goodies. Amazingly enough, the stuff even made it through customs and didn’t get stolen or damaged. They are probably used to it.
So what did this have to do with mom and/or dementia? For mom, this is easy, but for archaeology it may take a ancient, dusty shoehorn to apply…but it just so happens I brought one of those home too:
OK…this MAY not be a shoehorn. It was found between a layer of Roman ground and Crusader-era ground…so it could be a spoon, a weapon of some sort, or any number of other things. Regardless, we shall use this to apply to squeeze our archaeology boots on long enough to discuss dementia:
10 Things You Can Learn About Dementia From Archaeology in the Holy Land
- Stop and see the beautiful in the broken– I brought home more stuff, per square inch, that I found than I came with. Much of it was broken pottery. Here is one example, with more to follow:
This simple shard of Roman-era pottery (if I recall correctly) had an interesting diagonal groove structure. It took some thinking to turn it such that these grooves worked right, but they did. Remember the amazing blessings that are right in front of you with your loved one. Note that, even in their broken state, they are a beautiful representation of the image of God.
- Being “whole” is relative– One of the most common things you find out when you dig in a Roman through Crusades timeframe site is that things were built on top of each other using the same materials with new ones added. They didn’t waste. Think it through…if it took you a day to make your coffee mug, would you value it more than if you gave 30 seconds worth of wages for it at Dollar Tree? It was extremely common for a vessel in these dig sites to have a handle broken off. But, when they broke it, if it could still be used they kept using it. In our summer of digging we only found one pot that was “complete”. Is my mom whole through this disease? Nope, That is a hallmark of it…that it takes away the wholeness and replaces it with a broken version. It is tragic indeed. However, we are all broken. If we are going to regard people’s utilitarian value as their only value, mom should be put down like a sick house pet. However, as a Christian, I wholeheartedly believe mom, and every human on Earth and on the International Space Station equally, are of immense value first and foremost because of the one whose Image they are made in. We are all broken pots in differing amounts and we are all terminal….some of us just “more” terminal.
- Being whole is temporary anyway…enjoy the time while you have it– Amazingly, this Roman-era, 2000 year old pot was photographed, drawn by our artist, then promptly knocked off a table and broken like the rest. In the end, all we had was pictures and memories and some laughs as to how it could survive for at least 1900 years under ground and last less than a day in our care. I am glad we took the time to document the finding and enjoy it whole before it was broken. The dementia tie-in here kind of writes itself.
- Size matters– See the little horseshoe I found? I was unable to discern the exact period from which this was found…but I expect it had to be between 0 AD and 1300 AD. It is remarkable in its style and for its small size. Sorry for the stretch here, but brain mass shrinkage is a hallmark of dementia. As the disease kills neurons through plaques/tangles/every other pathology, it gets smaller and less dense. The features it needs the most are less and less available/able to handle the workload. This little horseshoe worked fine for whatever mini steed it was nailed to, but just try slapping it on an adult Clydesdale. It is unfair having to deal with the savages of dementia with a brain rendered too small by the enemy. Terrible.
- Life gives you lemons, make some napkin holders– This blog is something of a napkin ring. I am a very imperfect guy…badly broken if you will. I write about people further broken by this stinkin’ disease. My hope if to use this community as a napkin ring for those in need. I have about 20 broken pot handles. I could have brought home 2,000. There were broken handles everywhere. My thinking in selecting the ones I brought home was, in a typical male thought process, these things would make cool napkin rings. I grabbed some of various time periods and styles and threw them in my suitcase. Each of them represented a part of a whole pot broken by their tragic demise…probably being dropped by a kid named Markus Applegateus, a long-lost relative with similar coordination. But even in a terrible situation, we MUST find good and serve others, or the whole thing gets more tragic and seems without any redeeming value. I fully believe God has a plan to make all things work for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He uses us to show the good in the bad and if we don’t we rob Him of the Glory He deserves.
There are a few handles in the above picture. There are other parts and pieces as well.
- It’s all about that bass/base– Apologies to Meghan Trainor- One of the most critical, yet basic parts of a ceramic vessel is its base. If you don’t take care of it and be sure it is right, it will get wobbly and fall. It needs to be flat, have a good center of gravity, and be wide enough to handle what it needs. One of the savage things about dementia (and, frankly, being a senior) are falls. Please put “Fall” in the search box of this website and read one of the dozens of articles that talked about mom’s falls, fall prevention, when a Sweet 17 member would fall, and the like. Dementia takes away your balance, your depth perception, and your field of vision in a way that makes falls inevitable. Even though the new Facts and Figures report is out and the numbers state the severity of our problem, I can’t help but to think hundreds of thousands are miscounted, with their death blamed on a fall, a hemorrhage caused by same, or some other issue caused by balance issues. Please, regardless whether you have dementia or not, guard against falls. SeniorAge, my employer and friends, offers a host of wellness programs aimed at helping with this issue. Your local Area Agency on Aging certainly does too.
- The brain is a mosaic– One of my prized possessions from my goodies was a small section of mosaic floor. It is about the size of a McDonald’s kid’s meal burger patty and can be seen below. Next to it is a bag full of mosaic pieces. This piece is made even cooler by the fact that it was from an enormous floor at Caesarea Philippi and that Christ Himself visited this site. For all I know, we walked on my little chunk. Mosaics are interesting picture of life, to me. Each individual square, as in the bag of broken pieces, are sort of insignificant. But put them together just right and they make something amazing. The brain is like this too. Fully assembled and arranged “right”, everything is a marvel. However, when parts are missing, broken, or damaged, everything works differently and, sadly, can cease to work. Dementia, cube-by-cube, turns the beautiful mosaic picture back to cubes.
- Location is everything!- Whether in real estate or archaeology, location is everything! When you are doing a dig, most generally you rope off a square area. In our dig, our squares were 5 meters by 5 meters. Then you start digging layer-by-later. If you find something….say, a piece of pottery or a coin…you document its location. You compare its location with other things you find in that layer. Lastly, you start digging to the next later. By doing this, you can know, approximately, the date of one thing using clues from another. A “Tel”, for example, if a manmade hill that has been built, destroyed, and rebuilt using the same materials over and over and over until the piles of humanity make it taller than those areas around it. (A part of the city “Tel” Aviv is an example of a tel). These layers are imperfect, but using the documenting of layers helps solve complex historical puzzles. If you find one layer that only has Roman items in it with no “pollution” (corruption of layers) and keep going and keep going, you would expect to only find older things below. Logical, right? I mean, you wouldn’t expect to find a laptop under a layer of Roman artifacts…either the identification of the layer is wrong or the laptop was put in after the fact, corrupting the layer. In the brain, location makes all the difference too. As you progress in the disease, one person may have more pronounced speech problems while another may have hallucinations, balance problems, memory problems, or judgement challenges. It just depends to where the pathology has spread. That is why the disease is unpredictable and part of why it just flat stinks. My story may not be the same as yours, but it will likely overlap at times…
- Here is my spout– “I’m a little teapot, short and stout. Here is my handle and here is my spout.” Sing it with me and do the motions… In my pottery examples, there are a couple of spouts.(See below too) . One is small and allows only a little to pass through it. I am not sure why the function would be unless it is to drink directly from it, but it is pretty and glazed. The larger ones would allow lots of volume and would be very helpful on a hot day. Can I request of you and especially of me to use the big spout when it comes to love and patience and forgiveness (for you and for them), and patience…oh, I said that already…and empathy. We need to remember that this is a terribly hard situation that will require more love, patience, and the rest. Prepare and let it flow.
- If you look hard enough, you can see the light-These are my three favorites. I actually bought them from a reputable antiquities dealer. They are oil lamps. Kids, the ancients couldn’t just shake their cell phone to turn on the flashlight, they relied on vessels like these and a steady supply of oil to burn to fumble around for the keys to their chariots. The one on the left is the “newest” one. The middle is roughly New Testament times and the primitive one on the right is from several centuries BC. They all work the same, by and large. Fill them with oil and put the wick in the end and light it up. It is essentially a long-running candle, providing a portable light source. If you look closely, you can still see the charred spots on each, especially the middle and right ones, where the light burned. Can I get real with you for a second here… Keep looking and loving and serving and caring for and hugging (when the stinkin’ nursing home allows it), and singing and reading and spending time with your loved one even as things get hard. BUT, always look for glimpses of the good ole days. Your loved one is still right there. The good stuff is all them and the bad is all the disease. Keep looking and expecting.
“The Longest Day” is the longest day of the year…June 20th…the Summer Solstice. The Alzheimer’s Association asks all of us during our events regarding that day: why do you shine your light? I shine my light for my Lord’s glory, for my mom, for my uncle, for the Sweet 17, and for the rest of the 6+ million in the US with the disease. Thank you for supporting my fundraiser and adding oil to my lamp, day-in and day-out, with your encouragement and care. We need to beat this disease, and do it soon. #EndALZ
Update: We got our wires crossed and I missed the visit with mom Thursday. My next try is Tuesday morning early. I look so forward to getting things back to normal so that I can see her unfettered.
Here are some more pix:
The bottom left one was a nail. It was so corroded and rusted that it is hard to identify, but you can trust me on that one…Quite a cool find.
Last note: Tomorrow may be my longest run yet in prep for my Runnin’ Til I’m Purple run in June. It looks like a pretty 60-65 degrees. I am concerned about the sloshy ground…I may move it to the track or just on the road instead of the trail to prevent a slip. We made it to 25% of my $5,280 goal, which brings me great joy! Thanks again to Gingham & Grace for your fundraiser! 🙂 We are on target to get there and have some really cool fundraisers ahead not including the T-Shirt pre-orders. 🙂 Here is that link if you haven’t ordered: LINK I will deliver where I can or, if you are out of the area they can ship them. If I am delivering, just group them in the group pickup and I will get them out. 🙂
Thank you all very much! Have a great weekend and keep shining the light. 🙂