"No service is too small when given mindfully, with good intention and an open heart."
DEAR NEIGHBORCARE VOLUNTEERS AND FRIENDS:
This afternoon, after delivering this newsletter to the printer—and for the first time since the events in New York and Washington—I will be spending time with my nine-year-old granddaughter, who is a wise and heartfelt person. What will I say to her that will nourish her, yet still be true? What will she say to me that will nourish? Depending upon how she listens and what she asks, and how we are with each other today, maybe this—though, of course, not necessarily in this order or in these words: That there are people who are angry at our country and have acted from feelings we, too, sometimes have when we are angry. That our country is not alone in its suffering-and has caused suffering as well, as have many countries, though many are sorry this is so and have tried to prevent suffering and ease it. That peace must live in our hearts before the world can have it. That being kind we are golden, like candlelight, and help offset every darkness that is done. That true peacemakers know each other, not by their words but by how well they listen to each other's stories and treat all life as family. (Embracing all as family, whom would we harm?)That painting pictures in our minds of beauty and bounty and joy, we help make heaven on earth. That prayer is strong medicine. That any action we take as a human being or as a country—whether pointed, or gentle as a baby's breath—must well be dressed in these knowings. That happy or sad, well or ill, old or young—afraid, or as brave as lions—we are not alone (even if no one is nearby); others feel what we are feeling—the sun shines down on all of us.
"We cannot solve the problems we have created with the same thinking that created them."
This summer, I attended two memorial services for men cherished by their friends and communities. Each man in his own way took time with people and did not rush from them to something or someone "more important." Each did not say what a person could or should be, but-according to the flood of praise for both men-was it. I didn't know either man well-one, for one half hour. Yet all the good that folks said of them came streaming through and matched my brief experience-a reminder to me of all we can give, simply being who we are.
"Some words we've spoken-something we've made, some way we've been-will say who we were to all who come after and to all we've left behind."
NEIGHBORCARE ALERT We are in need of additional funds for OUR NEIGHBORCARE FRIEND (ONF), the 103-year-old woman who resides in a local assisted living center. The difference in cost between a private and semi-private room is over $1,000 a month. Our present funds for ONF, donated so generously, will run out by October 15th. Without them, ONF will no longer be able to stay in her private room, her last opportunity for self-rule. Thank you for any support you are happy to give. As ever, your donations are not tax deductible—we are neighbors. If ONF should die or be moved to a nursing facility, remaining funds will used to fulfill ongoing NEIGHBORCARE requests. Please let me know if you do not wish a (very) small portion of your donation to be put toward phone service, newsletter printing and postage.
FROM THE NOT-A-DOCTOR For (mostly)non-pain related nervousness and insomnia: passion flower tincture or tea. Can be helpful for those suffering from Parkinson's, seizures, neuralgia, shingles, asthma, anxiety or panic. Promotes restful sleep, but does not cause it. An exquisitely effective herb.
A SPLENDID BOOK, A FINE STORY My Grandfather's Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belongingby Rachel Naomi Remen This book rates a galaxy of stars. In it, Remen tells a story a dying man told her that he suddenly remembered. So much has been happening this September that is huge and loud and crushing. This story reminds us of the beauty that quivers in one small but stunning moment.
When he was four or five years old, the dying man found a rainbow trout that had washed up from a river. The fish was struggling to live in a drainage ditch. "As he described it, it seemed to him that there was something very wrong about this beautiful fish, trapped and struggling in too small, too shallow, too muddy a place. He was just a little boy, and it was a big fish, but somehow he managed to get it up into his arms. He carried it across the road, waded out into the river a little ways and put it back. Deeply moved, I asked him what he remembered most clearly about this. He said he remembered the moment when the fish between his hands realized it was once again part of the river."
"All that is not given is lost." - hsari pal
FROM THE KITCHEN Parboil sweet potatoes/yams. Slice them 1/4 inch thick. Place them in one layer on an oiled cookie sheet. Sprinkle them with your favorite seasonings. Bake at 400 degrees. Turn for a few moments more baking when they look crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. A taste treat for Thanksgiving or anytime.
FOR PONDERING After his stroke, Ram Dass realized "that I had been dealing with a very 'refined;' sort of grace in the past-the loving kind of grace, the grace of the good things that kept happening to me. 'Fierce grace' means I've now been given a fully rounded understanding of grace. Now I have a full view of what grace is all about. . . . It's learning to love whatever it is that brings me closer to God."
But not everyone tries to come closer to God. The following words are a portion of those written by a woman who had suffered much cancer trauma and had been given up by doctors only to survive more than a year longer than they ever imagined she could: "What I try to do, and I guess it's what everyone else on this list[serv] tries to do, each in our own way, is to try to accept what has happened to me without, at the same time, giving in to it. If I were religious, I would say it was trying to accept God's will rather than struggling to impose my own. Since I'm not religious, I think of it as trying to attain peace of mind, letting what happens happen and living each day as it comes. I believe that if I can do that, and I can't say I have done it yet, I will be mentally as well as physically fit to face whatever comes next."
A HOLIDAY REMINDER Like many in the world, we are a vulnerable people. We cannot run from danger, even from our fear of danger. Increasingly, we know our common bond—our common denominator—to be suffering, of whatever kind. The miracle: acting from that suffering, for our own good and the good of others, and finding joy. We do honor to those in our communities who suffer alone—and long for caring—when we include them in our lives at holiday time. Even if we are suffering, we can include them—especially if we are suffering, because we know what suffering is and, if we've been fortunate, have felt its remedy: compassion. When visitors come, do involve them in reaching out and welcoming in, or ask their forbearance while carrying on your good work. In these ways we are—are we not?—transformed.
"The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out."
LIVING QUESTIONS What can a heart withstand? How fully can it expand and how often-whether from joy or from sorrow or from compassion-without doing permanent harm? Or might this motion keep it vital? Might it do for our heart what a good run is meant to?
We reveal our longing to be safe and sound when we think we must have answers to all life's questions, as if answers were life vests that could keep us afloat. Our questions are what float us. They evolve according to the depth of our knowing. They shape our way of looking at the world and alter the world we're looking at. They shine light into dark places and guide us through. Often, answers are weights that drag us down.
Questioning implies asking from a point of fixed belief which calls to be defended. Inquiry has a quality of innocence about it. The word implies a willingness to hear-"So! What do you think?!" It implies a taking a breath between listening to someone's response and making another query, time to check for an inner quickening. The inquiring eye sees deeply and freshly. Everything we look at trembles with new life. We sense that if enough of us asked questions-made inquiries-concerning what might make a better difference to us all (and if we lived those questions), the answers would be seen in personal and planetary change.
Blessings all around you, this autumn and in every season,