Kindness to the Elderly

by Br. Randy OSB-F

A keen observer of human and feline behavior, a faithful follower of The Rule of St. Benedict, and an influential member of the Feline Cloister. In June 2013, Randy succumbed to lymphoma. He is dearly missed. His articles are offered here as his legacy to us. May he, along with our other departed animal friends, enjoy romping in the Paradise Cloister.
Looking back over articles I have written I see that I’m inclined to complain and find fault.  This is not very Benedictine. Indeed, Benedict tells us “keep your tongue free from vicious talk” (Prologue 17).  Perhaps I have caused you distress with this tendency towards negativity?  To make amends, I prostrate myself  before you, as Benedict recommends, and ask for your blessing. ( RB 71.6-8)  Then, in this article I offer a  positive observation.  What is is that observation? I see kindness to the elderly in our Feline Cloister.

Kindness to the Elderly

Br Mickey Is the oldest cat in the Feline Cloister. Recently Mickey went  to the animal hospital.  The vet took one look at him and exclaimed, “Boy, is he old!” What an awful thing to say! No wonder Mickey admitted that this was distressing to hear.  No only that, Mickey declared that he doesn’t feel old. I can relate to this angst.  Calling anyone old is definitely never appreciated.  I didn’t think the vet was very kind to Mickey.

But we see kindness to Mickey here in the Feline Cloister.  Mickey has feline glaucoma.  Because of this condition Amma or Prior John dispense drops in his eyes twice a day. Nevertheless he’s really good about this constant, not-fun routine.  He is much more accepting of this daily grind than I would be.   I think it is because Jane and John are patient and gentle with him.  Very Benedictine.  Benedictine tells us to treat the elderly with kindness and that  “their lack of strength must always be taken into account.” (RB 37.2) Our abbess and prior are following Benedict’s instructions admirably.

Randy’s Call to Action

Sweet Br Mickey

To show Br Mickey that I can follow Benedict’s instructions, I’ve been joining him on our favorite chair, cozying up in a companionable and comforting fashion. His reaction has been mixed…I must confess that I have my own challenges in keeping the Rule.

What about you?  Who do you know someone who is elderly and would welcome your kindness?  This could be a visit, perhaps, or a phone call, or a special treat for their cat?  A word of caution.  When you offer kindness to the elderly, please just don’t say what that vet said!



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