Some years ago an American journal published an article by a doctor on the “Stages of Ageing.” In it he described a case-study he presented to his students when teaching a class in medical school.
He described his patient like this: “My patient neither speaks nor understands the words I say. Sometimes she babbles for hours.
“She is disoriented about persons, places, and time.
“She does, however, respond to her name…
“I have worked with her for the past six months, but she still shows complete disregard for her appearance. She must be fed, bathed, and dressed. Because she has no teeth, her food must be pureed.
“Her shirt is usually soiled from almost incessant drooling.
“She doesn’t walk. Her sleep pattern is erratic. Often she wakes in the middle of the night and her screaming awakens others.
“Most of the time she is friendly and happy, but several times a day she gets quite agitated without apparent cause. Then she wails until someone comes to comfort her.”
After presenting the class with this challenging case, the doctor asked his students if any of them would like to volunteer to take care of this person. No one volunteered.
Then the doctor said, “I’m surprised none of you offered to help, because actually she is my favourite patient. I get immense pleasure from taking care of her and I’m learning so much from her.
“She has taught me a depth of gratitude I never knew before.
“She has taught me the spirit of unwavering trust.
“And she has taught me the power of unconditional love.”
Then the doctor said, “Let me show you her picture.”
He pulled out the picture and passed it around. It was a photograph of his six-month-old baby daughter.
Now, I like that story for several reasons.
For one thing, it shows us the importance of perspective.
It shows us how essential it is to have all the facts before we make a decision. It reminds us too, that our children have so much to teach us if we pay attention.
But also, it reminds me that there was a time when Jesus was a baby. We forget the hours Joseph and Mary spent taking care of the baby Jesus.
As Jesus was growing up, his parents taught Him many good lessons. But imagine the powerful lessons they learned from Him.
I wonder what things we may learn from our children this Christmas?