NEIGHBORCARE NEWS #28 JUNE '04
"No service is too small when given mindfully, with good intention and an open heart."
DEAR NEIGHBORCARE FRIENDS:
These green days, when such good is being born (would we see it!) and
more good is yet to come, consider the fullness and promise of these
ancient words which, when said aloud, can be fortifying:
NEIGHBORCARE NEWS Picture this: An ambulance (or a taxi which you can ill afford) has brought you to the emergency room, but there is no one to drive you to your house where you live alone. (Maybe friends and neighbors and family members are away or at work, or for reasons of pride or privacy you prefer not to ask them for help. Or maybe you are recently widowed or have just moved to the peninsula and know hardly anyone.) What would having a caring person drive you home mean to you? I am gathering names of individuals living in or near Blue Hill (and from Stonington all the way to Bucksport and Castine) who would be open to receiving calls from the Blue Hill Hospital emergency room. The individuals on my list are often home and have chosen which days and times they are willing to be called (some choosing anytime) and how far they are willing to drive. Odds are you rarely would receive a call. May I add your name? IF YOU FEEL MOVED TO HELP OUT, WHAT A SHAME IF YOU DON'T TAKE A MOMENT TO LET ME KNOW! (email@example.com)
COME LIFT YOUR HEART A Jew from a neighboring village, Mausche by name, who dealt in land and cattle, used to come through Günsbach occasionally with his donkey cart. As there was at that time no Jew living in the village, this was always something of an event for the boys; they used to run after him and jeer at him. One day, in order to announce to the world that I was beginning to feel myself grown up, I could not help joining them, although I did not really understand what it all meant, so I ran along with the rest behind him and his donkey cart, shouting "Mausche! Mausche!" The most daring of them used to fold a corner of their shirt or jacket to look like a pigs ear, and spring with that as close to him as they could. In this way we followed him out of the village as far as the bridge, but Mausche with his freckles and gray beard, drove on as unperturbed as his donkey, except that he several times turned round and looked at us with an embarrassed but good natured smile. This smile overpowered me. From Mausche it was that I first learnt what it means to keep silent under persecution, and he thus gave me a most valuable lesson. From that day forward I used to greet him politely, and later, when I was in the secondary school (Gymnasium) I made it my practice to shake hands and walk a little way along with him, though he never learnt what he really was to me. He had the reputation of being a usurer and property-jobber, but I never tried to find out whether this was true or not. To me he has always been "just Mausche" with the tolerant smile, the smile which even today compels me to be patient when I should like to rage and storm. ―Albert Schweitzer
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. In the video gem, My Life Without Me, a happily married young mother of two is handed a diagnosis of terminal cancer. Rocketing straight to acceptance, she lists all she would like to accomplish before she dies (estimated time left, a couple of months). What she accomplishes (for her own good and for the good of those she loves), as well as how she reaches her goal, cheers the heart.
"What were after is equanimity, the poise that allows us to accept gracefully the blessings and burdens that are beyond our control. What were after is the ability, regardless of circumstance, in the face of disappointment and happy surprise, in the face of tragedy and bliss, to return home to our true selves and our highest natures." ―Philip Simmons/Learning to Fall
FOR PONDERING The following was included in an invitation extended to my daughter and her family. The person who sent it used to be an activist in the world far beyond her home. Now she is a mother who understands that nurturing her children well could be her finest and most beneficial activism. I have read these words in other places―you may have, too―but each time the list seems fresh to me, and satisfying: Some Signs and Symptoms of Inner Peace ☼A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experience ☼ An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment ☼ A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others ☼ A loss of interest in conflict ☼ A loss of the ability to worry (this is a very serious symptom) ☼ Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation ☼ Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature ☼ Frequent attacks of smiling ☼ An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen ☼ An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.
"Wage peace./Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious./Have a cup of tea and rejoice./Act as if armistice has already arrived./Dont wait another minute." from Mary Olivers poem, "Wage Peace"
WITNESSING AS CAREGIVING Many years ago, a wise friend visiting in Florida was driving from Miami to Naples on the busy, two-lane Tamiami Trail. An egret flapped in the center of the road, helpless and sure to be hit. Had my friend tried to pull over, most likely she would have caused an accident. Instead, she bore witness, blessing the bird as she sped past. Another woman suffered a similar experience witnessing the plight of a great blue heron who had been poisoned and was disoriented and out of reach. This woman, too, bestowed blessing.
A nurse with no power to save the lives of infant Siamese twins (but who could not bear to leave them alone in sterile surroundings) held them in her arms for more than twenty-four hours until each, in turn, died.
Lyall Watson wrote in The Gifts of Unknown Things of a young south sea island woman with great powers who, when other islanders turned away, embraced a beached and dying whale and sang to the whale until s/he passed.
And there is witnessing that stretches over longer periods of time. A friend who "neighborcares" as surely and easily as she lives and breathes is in Mexico, as witness―as are others― in one of many villages rife with political tension and past bouts of violence. Bearing witness in these villages has been shown to forestall more violence.
In her cottage in Ireland, for a month during the summer, a nurse with dual citizenship in the U.S. and Ireland nourishes children who live in present-day Belarus. These children have been contaminated by chronic low-level exposure to toxins released from a leaking reactor in Chernobyl. The nurse―like others offering summer sanctuary in Ireland for Belarus children―must send the children home. Her time with them is bittersweet and also a kind of witnessing, since her presence comes furnished with a built-in inability to prevent them from future harm.
As a nation of fixer uppers, we often discount the above-mentioned kinds of nurture. Yet during times we feel most helpless, bearing witness often is all we can do to impart good―that, and finding beauty in compassion, however brief a capsule of time we have, to deliver our caring. Imagine if we took refuge in this knowing and acted on it. Then every drive or walk would provide opportunity for offering blessing ―a horse standing snow covered and alone in a pasture, a child weeping on a city balcony, a boulder―huge and ancient―upended in a field.
"The present moment is the only moment available to us, and it is the door to all moments." ―Thich Nhat Hanh
FROM THE KITCHEN Halve cherry tomatoes (preferably ones warm from the garden!) not quite all the way through and, in each, set a smoked oyster. Delicious and simple and colorful. Secure with a toothpick.
FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAK Please go to <http://www.api4animals.org/doc.asp?ID=79> for an intelligent accounting of whats in the pet food you serve the animals you love.(You may be shocked by what you learn there!) On that same pageclick on "sample diets." I feed my dog, Ozzie, Wysong products (He scratched a lot while on Innova, also highly rated) then supplement with food and supplements and tinctures etc.
LIVING QUESTIONS "When Thoreau says, it was morning, and lo, now it is evening, and nothing memorable is accomplished, this is waving a red flag in front of go-getting, progress-oriented people. But who is to say that one moment spent in his doorway are less memorable or have less merit than a lifetime of busyness, lived with scant appreciation for stillness and the bloom of the present moment?" ―from Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
FROM THE NOT-A-D0CTOR I wrote in the Dec 97 newsletter: The day after Thanksgiving, much to my surprise, I began living with Bells Palsy. Certainly there is no greater opportunity to test our feelings about caregiving and receiving care—and about fear and gratefulness—than when we or our loved ones are stricken suddenly. The list of treatments I chose for myself was gleaned from my own experience and intuition plus a massive search on the Internet. Im pleased to report that in two short weeks, Im just about back to myself, and smiling with both sides of my face. Since this writing, Ive added many Bells Palsy stories to my website. If you know anyone who suffers from Bells, do direct them to <http://heartsongbooks.com/bells.html>.
Blessings all around youthis summer and in every season,