A reflection on the strength visible in people living in assisted care facilities, by Dr. Jim Keller, retired Chair of Philosophy at Wofford College. Interviewed by Scott Neely in Spartanburg, SC on August 23, 2016.
JK: One of the things that I discovered quite soon after I moved into the hospital was how much more limited my options for things to do had become. My life had slowed down, but on the other hand I became more observant of what was going on around me. After nine days in the hospital, I went from the hospital to the skilled nursing facility. And there I saw people—I still felt quite limited—and still my very limitation was giving me the time to be more observant. And I saw people, some of whom were worse off than I was, some of whom were better off, in terms of their physical state. But the thing that most impressed me was the way nearly all of them, except those with some kind of advanced dementia, nearly all of them were struggling to do the maximum that they could by themselves. And I regard this as a marvelous testament to the human spirit, and perhaps the kind of help that God offers everyone, though some may not take it.
SN: And by the help that God may offer, you mean that drawing out of ourselves into strength beyond our circumstances? Or a resiliency?
JK: A resiliency. The strength to go on. Maybe not the physical strength, but the emotional strength, the commitment. When people are struggling to move and to feed themselves, as I said I see it as a testament to the human spirit, but that human spirit itself might be the result of divine…responding to a divine call, even if you don’t know it’s a divine call.
SN: That lure of the Spirit to the human spirit.