Access Deeper Presence in the Onset of Dementia

Spiritual Director Uses SoulCards to Help a Woman to Access Deeper Presence in the Onset of Dementia

Cheryl Rose, HM, Cleveland, OH

I taught high school for many years and have been giving retreats for even longer. I now work fulltime doing adult retreats, personal growth programs and one-on-one spiritual direction. While I have a Masters and other post-graduate training, I learn far more by listening to and witnessing the courageous lives of those I work with.

I have used the SoulCards many times on retreats with groups. I have found them to be POWERFUL for people who are really listening and seeking. I put the participants in small groups of 3 or 4 and have them work one at a time. One person begins, spreading the cards out face down on a table and then selecting three cards. The first card they draw is about their past, the second about the present and the third about the future. Turning over one card at a time, the person takes time to absorb it, observe how it makes them feel, and look for what they see and notice in the picture. Then they ask themselves: “How is this connected to my past? What does it say to me?”  The deep psyche then speaks to the outer self of what is really going on.  

The others in the group are supporting and listening intently. I caution them in my introduction to let the person talk about their own cards, without putting the listeners’ interpretations into the picture. The listeners are told they might ask about a particular part of the card that the one talking may not have mentioned… or perhaps ask about the colors in the drawing and what they mean… or what the message is, etc.

It is amazing for me to observe the quiet and reverence in the room. The listeners are so caught up in the speaker’s experience. I am in awe at how the groups become so cohesive as they journey with their cards and their lives together. As I write this I am smiling, remembering groups I have used this with, seeing them in my mind’s eye working so closely, reverently and lovingly together. There are always amazing revelations; insights that probably could not have come any other way.

Perhaps the most poignant experience happened on a retreat I recently gave. A woman whom I have known from past retreats came to me early on with a most crushing, painful diagnosis she had received only weeks before. After tests and other treatments, her doctor had told her that she was experiencing the onset of dementia. This woman put her head down and sobbed and sobbed. The news was too overwhelming to accept. As she unpacked some of her feelings with me, I cried with her. Her questions were heavy. “What will I be like? Will I know I am trapped in my body? Who will I be, and what will I be aware of?”
The next morning I used the SoulCards with the group. At the end of the session, this woman stayed back to talk to me. Her cards were so UTTERLY amazing that she was still stunned and speechless! She could not tell her partners the significance of the cards she had drawn. But as she and I looked at them now, we were simply astounded at the mercy and providence of God, who spoke so tenderly to her in these cards!

The one that affected her the most was the third; the future. There was a head, bigger than normal. The part of the head where the brain would be was FILLED with light!!! There was a knowing, peaceful, intent, alert look on the person’s face. The message was like a gift of deep wisdom from a place of greater knowing. It painted a picture for her of her great soul in the future, full of light, fully aware; a greater self; emerging! I give thanks for the gift of SoulCards. They allow people to encounter and hear from their own souls.