"No service is too small when given mindfully, with good intention and an open heart."
DEAR NEIGHBORCARE VOLUNTEERS AND FRIENDS:
Very recently, I received a disturbing email regarding the plight of 10,000 bears in China. (I will not give details here. They are too ghastly, both in fact and in implication.) I signed a petition for compassion as requested and, as requested, forwarded copies of the email. Prompted by the response of a friend who received one of these copies, I sent emails out all over again, these my own. My friend had expressed concern for the recipients of the first email-that they would be profoundly saddened and horrified from news of the bears, also frustrated, believing they could do nothing helpful. After much pondering, regarding NEIGHBORCARE, regarding my conviction that all who live are neighbors-no matter of which kingdom, no matter of what place, these words (slightly edited and excerpted) were my reply:
"How can I disagree. I can only add. First, I have to believe there is always something we can do, no matter how quiet and small it seems. That way, if (heaven forbid) we suddenly became paralyzed and could not speak we might, if we could manage it, still feel useful, knowing that through our thoughts we could dispense good. . . .
There is another piece to this. In nearby Belfast (ME), neighbors are celebrating BEARS like Chicago celebrated COWS. There are approximately forty bedecked bear creations gracing Belfast. In the spirit of "NEIGHBORCARE anywhere," I emailed three Maine legislators, including the representative from Belfast, asking them to investigate and then act to ease, if not reverse, the bear misfortune in China. The editor of Belfast's newspaper, The Republican Journal, too, was emailed and asked if she would help turn the festive Belfast celebration to lasting and practical good.
"When . . . we move awareness out into the world," a NEIGHBORCARE friend emailed me after receiving my second email, "who knows who has power to respond in what way? . . . We never know, but if we never try, NO ONE will ever know. " This woman mentioned a man named Paul Rogat Loeb who wrote a book called Soul of a Citizen. In his book, Loeb asks whether our fears and our horror freeze us into nonaction or motivate us to take action. Do email me if you want to know more details about the bears in China (email@example.com) or, as was mentioned to me, if you know someone (who knows someone) in the Chinese consulate.
NEIGHBORCARE NEWS Co-founder Jeanne Gaudette has been visiting an elderly man who, though not interested in receiving meals, gladly welcomes her. "The pleasure is all mine," says Jeanne. She speaks of how her heart opens to this man, who is grateful for the least attention. She emphasizes that people who are lonely and long for company can never have too many callers, even if a nurse and home-health aides make regular visits. (Perhaps knowing that someone truly wants to see you makes the difference- though, certainly, paid and unpaid callers alike can inspire this feeling.)
A sprightly and gracious elderly woman joined a group who were volunteering to stack wood for a neighbor who had tendonitis. The woman and her husband had been served gladly by NEIGHBORCARE for years. Right along with the younger people, she helped at the woodpile. After the woodstacking experience, she reported she felt uplifted, volunteering, and was amazed that from this little NEIGHBORCARE overture-from this relatively light effort and from this camaraderie-so much good could rise.
In Confessions of a Guilty Bystander, Thomas Merton wrote of his experience visiting Louisville on an errand for the monastery: "At the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers."
FROM THE KITCHEN Warm one side of a large tortilla in a large frying pan, then turn it over. Place cheese, thinly sliced or grated, soy or not, down the center so it has time to melt. Add sauteed portabello mushrooms, peppers, seitan (or meat or chicken), onions, broccoli, tamari (or soy sauce), and parsley-and maybe some spinach . Drizzle in a dressing of balsamic vinegar, (lots of) crushed garlic, honey and olive oil. Then close up and turn over again for added warming and to wilt the greens.
WE ARE NO LONGER SEEKING DONATIONS at least for the time being. In fact, a few weeks ago, an offering was graciously declined.We ask for no more than what we need. And we need little—that is one great beauty of NEIGHBORCARE. The greatest gifts are gifts of time and energy happily spent. We are grateful for all—from every realm—that has been given.
TIPS Holding a washed glass honey jar, with a slight scent of honey still present, "invite wasps in" for removal to the outdoors.
A SIMPLE TALE affirming our interconnectedness, from an unattributed story forwarded by email:
His name was Fleming. He was a poor Scottish farmer who one day heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the scene. There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow, terrifying death.
The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's door. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy the farmer had saved. "I want to repay you," said the nobleman. "You saved my son's life." "No, I can't accept payment for what I did," the Scottish farmer replied, waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer's own son came to the door of the family hovel. "Is that your son?" the nobleman asked. "Yes," the farmer replied proudly. "I'll make you a deal. Let me take him and give him a good education. If the lad is anything like his father, he'll grow into a man you can be proud of." And that he did.
In time, Farmer Fleming's son graduated from St.Mary's Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming the discoverer of Penicillin. Years afterward, the nobleman's son was stricken with pneumonia. What saved him? Penicillin. The name of the nobleman's son? Sir Winston Churchill.
FROM THE NOT-A-DOCTOR There are many simple remedies for bedsores: Here is one of them: Clean the sore three times a day with hydrogen peroxside. Coat it with liquid lecithin you can purchase from your co-op or healthfood store. Cover the sore with a non-stick sterile dressing; and ask the person you are caring for to try to avoid leaning on it.
My dog, Ozzie, who is nine-years-old, over time didn't want to jump up on the sofa anymore. He could hardly put his paws on my knee and he no longer entertained us with his pre-walk Joy Dance. There was no yelping or whining, but Ozzie was in obvious discomfort. I gently massaged his back legs and hips. I also gave him one Bufferin a day for two days and one strip of Nutri Sea sea jerky (which contains sea cucumber, among other nutrients and ingredients) every other day three times, adjusting dosage as demanded by Ozzie's weight of forty pounds and my aim to give less rather than more, whenever this seems fitting. By the end of the second day, Ozzie was as perky as a puppy.
A GIFT WE CAN GIVE Invite a NEIGHBORCARE friend to a meal at your home. If she feels up to it, a one hundred-and-two-year-old friend is coming over for supper. A mutual friend is escorting her and is part of the festivities. We are all tickled pink.
"The upheaval of nature, the great unrest, the world revolutions, the shedding of bodies, and the separations and divisions among men-all these things are caused by the parts of the whole trying to stay in a place to which they do not belong. As soon as man is in his own place he has peace; until then he cannot have it."
-from The Music of Life by Western Sufi leader, Hazrat Inayat Khan
Blessings all around you, this autumn and in every season,