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A new perspective on assisted living

“Are you in Assisted Living?” the voice on the phone asked. A reasonable question since at age 77, I was preparing for a medical procedure. “No,” I responded. After the surgery I was able to recover at home. But I did need assistance in my daily living, because temporarily I did not have the use of my right hand.

However, it was on my morning walk to St. Joeseph Lake here at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods one day that the question of being in assisted living took me to a more profound level. Suddenly I realized that every one of us is in assisted living.

As the many staff persons arrived on the campus that day, I reflected on how many people and services it takes to make the ordinary everyday life here run smoothly. It is when something does not function so smoothly that I’m jolted into thinking about people and services I usually take for granted.

Then there are those who do not work on campus but had a hand in growing the wheat become bread, in picking the oranges, in transporting the food, in providing the electricity, in making the clothes I wear. You see this litany could go on and on.

At yet another level there are all those gifts of nature to thank for my well-being. The trees of the tropical rainforests, called the lungs of the world, provide the oxygen we breathe and help prevent harmful climate change.

Where would I be without water to drink, to cook and to wash my body and my clothes? Water affects not only the quantity of food but the nutritional value. It impacts the farmer and migrant workers’ ability to make a living. Without adequate rain, the flowers lose some of their fragrance. The honey bees’ work, essential to one-third of our diet, pollinate fewer flowers when drought decreases the fragrance.

The alpacas I greet on my walk provide compost that enriches the soil providing organic food. The worms are responsible for creating oxygen in the soil. Unless you are a worm bin composter, when did you last give thanks for the worms?

I invite you to begin your own litany of awareness and gratitude!

(Originally published in the Winter 2018 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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Sister Donna Butler

Sister Donna Butler

Sister Donna Butler has been a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods for more than 60 years. Sister Donna has served in elementary education, parish ministry, diocesan social justice, as well as the Congregation’s liturgy office, archives department and social justice outreach. She also administered as the director of the Providence Volunteer Ministry. Sister Donna currently volunteers in outreach with Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College students.

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