"No service is too small when given mindfully, with good intention and an open heart."
DEAR NEIGHBORCARE VOLUNTEERS AND FRIENDS:
These days, flowers open and bloom splendidly-I can almost hear them; scents and colors are that strong. In their presence (presents), inhaling, I am "inspired." Tom Robbins, in his book Jitterbug Perfume speaks of our floral brain. The brain does look much like a cauliflower and the words brain stem have long been part of our vocabulary. What can thinking of ourselves as flowers-of ourselves as part of "the garden"-mean to us? Asking the question, I leap to this:
For well over a year, many of us helped care for a man with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Our time with this man on his journey changed our lives. His time with us did the same, he said. When our friend died earlier this year, there was a service, and people spoke in celebration. Following the service, there was a wake. More people spoke. And after the wake-a month later-some of us met to acknowledge-again with food and celebration-the anniversary of our friend's death. Toward the end of our time together, we gathered in a circle in our hosts' living room. At first what we shared were stories of our friend-many of them, ribtickling.
One among us took a different turn then, and we followed. She confessed episodes of self-doubt regarding her capacity to care for this man who had become so dear to all of us. More than once, she was concerned she might not have acted or communicated in ways that were helpful or nourishing. Speaking from this deep place, she sparked similar openings. Our sharing fostered mercy-for ourselves and for each other-and made us kin, though months before 'in the beginning' some of us had scarcely known each other's names. These openings, if I may stretch the earlier metaphor, colored our final moments together that evening-perfumed them, if you will-and we bloomed. We had struck light, I guess you could say-what any flower craves.
"Dance as if no one were watching, sing as if no one were listening, and live each day as if it were your last."
UPDATE ON OUR 103 YR. OLD NEIGHBORCARE FRIEND IN THE NORTHERN BAY RESIDENTIAL LIVING CENTER (PENOBSCOT NURSING HOME): Despite assorted physical challenges and occasional setbacks, ONF thrives. These past three weeks I've been to see her, she's been dressed and eating fairly well. She can't see her plants too clearly or hear the birds on the feeder just outside her window, but even flashes of color and sweet sound please her. She is, as always, a fine combo of feisty and tender, frail and hearty. Thank you for your contributions, which are ensuring her an easier, sheltered time.
"Lives is run is different lengths, and nobody can say what's the matter with some folks, only that their threads' run out; there's more on one spool and less on another."
WELCOME to Joanne Rauscher and Eleanor McFarland who have joined Jeanne Gaudette and me in helping tend and sustain the NEIGHBORCARE fire.
WE'RE ON THE LOOKOUT for NEIGHBORCARE "tidiers." We each know how it feels to experience aches and pains every so often. There are those valiant souls who suffer pain and other incapacities nearly every moment and still long to have their surroundings in order and at least fairly clean. Often they can't afford cleaning help or help can't be found either for pay or through service agencies (lonnnnnnng waiting lists). Will any of you who have a knack-not an abhorrence-for tidying let me know? There are people so eager for your skills and willingness they would welcome any bit of assistance, any time they can get it! An hour or two a time, at any time that's convenient to you, would be a blessing. (This does not have to be a weekly service.) NOTE:Times we can't satisfy a need, we find people who can, so we also are looking for dependable for-pay "tidiers and scrubbers" who have time to offer. Discounts not necessary but gratefully accepted. Gladly, NEIGHBORCARE will sometimes donate supplemental funds.
FROM THE NOT-A-DOCTOR I use many pure essential oils. However if I had to choose one, it would be lavender-for burns, for heartening and "to calm any strong emotions that threaten to overwhelm the mind.
for external use only, please, and for diffusing
Lavender is antibacterial, antifungal, antiinflammatory, antispasmodic and more. In addition, it relieves pain. When my husband (Arnold) broke his ankle,lavender oil and reiki eased the pain that medication didn't touch.
NEIGHBORS OF THE HEART Many people responded to the interview on NPR a few months ago, when a woman from Wales described eloquently-truly-the suffering that hoof and mouth disease had wreaked on her 100+ dairy cows and on her family. The woman's young daughter had named each cow, herself. Each cow was known. Each evening, one particular cow had come to kiss the woman good night before she turned off the light in the barn. There was nowhere her little girl-all little girls and boys in Wales-could have gone to escape the gunfire, to escape the burning. I tracked down the woman's address on the Internet, then wrote to her. I said I had no idea what to say that could ease her and her family but wanted them to be aware that far across the world, someone they did not know, personally, was thinking of and praying for them and for their cows. The note I received back was heartening. The family had received many letters, the woman wrote. Each had meant much.
CLOSER TO HOME: A couple I didn't know personally who are parents to a NEIGHBORCARE signee in Massachusetts offered to take me in while I was in Boston for one of our children's surgery AND a lovely young woman from Northfield, MN I met on a bus said she'd help out if someone needed a hand near Minneapolis AND a friend I hadn't seen for years said to me (in a grocery aisle in Portland) she'd be glad to be a NEIGHBORCARE contact in Alna (ME). Know anyone anywhere who would like to do the same? We'd be happy to send along brochure and newsletters.
A QUALITY WEBSITE Go to http://yourturnnpr.org , scroll down to End of Life Stories. Click to read 492 end of life stories.
FROM THE KITCHEN for a tasty and healthful salad dressing (and 'drizzle' for tortilla filling) try blending flaxseed oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, garlic, and honey.
FOR PONDERING On his way to church, a scholar was surprised to see a man in tattered clothes and barefoot.
Nevertheless, as a good Christian, he greeted the poor man: "May God give you a good morning!"
The poor man replied cheerfully, "I have never yet had a bad morning."
"Then may God give you good luck!"
"I have never yet had bad luck."
"Well, may God give you happiness!"
"I have never yet been unhappy."
The scholar then asked the man, "Could you you please explain yourself to me? I do not understand."
And the poor man replied, "With pleasure! You wish me a good morning, yet I have never had a bad morning. For when I am hungry, I praise God; when I feel cold, or when it is raining or snowing, I praise God; and that is why I have never had a bad morning. You wish that God may give me luck. However, I have never had bad luck. This is because I live with God and always feel what he does for me is the best. Whatever God sends me, be it pleasant or unpleasant, I accept with a grateful heart. That is why I have never had bad luck. Finally, you wish that God should make me happy. But I have never been unhappy. For all I desire is to follow God's will; I have surrendered my will so totally to God's will that, whatever God wants, that is what I also want.
"That is why I have never been unhappy."
- Meister Eckhart
TIP When sautłeing vegetables for soup, ease your cleanup by forgoing the frying pan; instead, sautłe the vegetables in the pot you're making the soup in.
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
LIVING QUESTIONS "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am for myself only, what am I? And if not now, when?"
A SUMMERTIME GIFT Each day we're on the road for this reason and that, captured by, I hope—not oblivious to—the glory that graces us at every turn. At the same time, those we serve recently may have lost their driving privileges—or the person with whom, for fifty years, they've cherished the beauty all around. What a gift, simply to give someone a ride these bright days, accompanied by some warm talk (recommended for sweltering days as well as frigid ones)—and maybe an ice cream cone! (A NEIGHBORCARE friend who now lives in a residential living center still talks of the time, years ago, we shared a snack together at the park in Blue Hill, one summer's day.)
"[T]he loving presence does not burden us equally with all things, but considerately puts upon each of us just a few central tasks as emphatic responsibilities. For each of us, these special undertakings are our share in the joyous burden of love."
Blessings all around you, this summer and in every season,