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The Luna Moth
Jim Stinson

By: Jim Stinson on June 5th, 2014

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The Luna Moth

assisted living  |  Aging & Caregiving

By, Reverend Jim Stinson, Director of Spiritual Life for United Methodist Homes 

luna-mothHe was very excited as he asked me! Sitting outside of Bishop Wicke Health Center, where he is a resident, he stared at one particular spot. A spot from which he waits for dialysis treatment three days a week.

His free time is limited and is often marked by fatigue from the ordeal he endures every other day, so it was especially meaningful that he was so excited and full of vitality as he asked: “Have you seen the Luna Moth?” First of all I wasn’t quite sure if I had ever seen a Luna Moth, nor would I have recognized one if I did. Secondly, I could not comprehend the excitement until he told me all about the Luna Moth.

Endangered as a species, rare, and usually only spotted at night, for one who knows of nature’s wonders, the fact that he was seeing this moth (who by the way has an extremely short life span) was a cause for wonder. That wonder was awakened by a moth of all things and it “made his day” and my day. It made his day because he knew about the Luna Moth and had never seen one before; mine because it caused me to stop and reflect at how much of the “little miracles” of life I miss because I get so busy looking at the big picture rather than the components of it.

I loved the fact that we could have a conversation free of the disease that keeps him pre-occupied and could focus on the miracle of the Luna Moth. In a strange way doing so pushed me into a new place. It got me thinking about how I do ministry with and for older adults, many of whom become preoccupied with what they see as the “big picture.” Many become so focused on the illnesses and frailties that often come with the aging process that they miss the little miracles that happen daily, the daily openings for joy and wonder. It also got me thinking about their caregivers, who often are so preoccupied with what’s wrong with Mom or Dad, or whoever that they miss what’s right with Mom or Dad. They miss the everyday miracles of interacting with them, of feeling and sharing love.

My friend at Bishop Wicke Health Center knew a secret we do well to remember. No matter the situation, no matter the location, there are always the Luna Moths. There are always the bright spots, if we know where to look.  

Marge knew the same secret. Widowed six months earlier, still grieving, she was told she had the same cancer that had claimed her husband’s life. Seeing the “big picture” I went to see her expecting to find a woman in despair. Instead I found a woman who looked for the Luna Moth, as it was and found it. We were talking about the diagnosis when she said, “You know, either way I can’t lose. Either I get more time with my kids and grandchildren or I get to be with Hughie sooner than I thought.” My initial reaction was that she was in denial about the real situation. As I watched her, as her cancer spread, that reaction changed. She faced everyday head on, but always with a sense that little miracles were occurring. She lived every minute of her dwindling life with a sense of joy.

So in caring for or about older adults, remember the Luna Moth and help those for whom you care to see it with you!

United Methodist Homes- Essential Caregiver's Guide

About Jim Stinson

I first became an ordained member of the New York Conference of the United Methodist Church fifty years ago. Through my time with the pastoral ministry, I worked extensively with older adults, many of whom were members of my congregation. I also served as the Director of Spiritual Life for United Methodist Homes from July 2002 until my retirement in July 2015, providing guidance and support to residents, family members, and staff. I love reminding people that “old” is not a dirty word and encourage others to adopt a healthy perspective on aging. I am also the author of a book, Just Because I Am Old – A Practical and Theological Guide To Caring, which was recently published in 2014.

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