NEIGHBORCARE NEWS #34 DECEMBER '05

"No service is too small when given mindfully, with good intention and an open heart."

Toby Klein
Sullivan, ME

WHY I DO THIS: Because I like to help. I feel compassion and empathy and I'm drawn to ask if there is anything I can do. Offering is a gift for me as well as a gift for those receiving. I value the connection we all share.



DEAR NEIGHBORCARE FRIENDS: Increasingly, I speak in story, steering away from issues, per say, as if they were maelstroms come to blind me. The closer my attention remains with story—no matter how elevated the issue trying to compete for it—the more real I feel and the more inspired to do what I hope is experienced as satisfying and helpful. Tell me a story that embodies issues of peace and reconciliation and the rest, and I’m all ears.

Witness the baby in the stroller, left unattended, whose face is left exposed to the strong summer sun, and the horse lone standing in the pasture following the loss of his mate, and the goldfish hungry for his morning sprinkle of food, and the dying man receiving dutiful, but not loving, care. Each sighting is the kernel of a story as big as the world, a story which harbors all our issues—all our stories—would we but see the interconnections.

The blare of media assaults to the senses, the blitz of disposable nonessential goods, threats to freedom and privacy and health and Earth (whom I would wrap my arms around if I could—and do in my mind’s eye), are opportunities to see deeper. Please do not pass them by. Reach out—at the very least with blessing—to the smallest and the quietest. And rejoice, too, with the ones who speak and sing in humble ways that lift us.

So doing, we are on the frontlines for peace whether visible or homebound, and the bounty of our times of thanksgiving cannot fail to reach beyond our doorways and our beds.

NEIGHBORCARE NEWS A loyal NEIGHBORCARE friend died recently. This was the man who despite his own troubles, and in his singular, crusty but heartfelt way, asked to help, until he physically no longer could. This was was the man who reminded us, shaking his finger, that we must be open to helping all, not just those who were “easy.” This was the dear friend would not want me to thank him. But thank you I must, Conrad.

FOR PONDERING As person after person begins to think and speak and act rightly, caring for others as themselves, they elect others who do the same. Choices are made that are restorative. Planetary welfare is assured. This is a politics of kinfluence. The question remains, “Is there time enough?” We can answer, “These days, though assaults on decency and truth and beauty are staggering, there is no another path I would want to follow—no other way I would want to live—even if the world were to end tomorrow.

Everywhere we look, anywhere we are, need is great and growing. We have power till our last breath for tenderness. The impossibility of addressing all that ails us drives us to the haven of our tiniest compassions, both given and received. How tenderly we care for one another may be all we know—for sure—we have. Whatever our fate, compassionate caring becomes our finest recourse. Upon that knowing, we stand.
If never in our entire lives we have been granted a caring word, still we have the capacity to ease others so they do not suffer as we have. And if we have been given all the riches others lack—loving people who encouraged us when we were children, great financial resources, endless favors—we can pass the richness on in fine, sustaining ways. - from Caring in Remembered Ways/maggie davis

FOR THE VOICELESS Recently my fifteen-year-old, almost-blind, almost deaf dog, Ozzie has slowed on his walks—these walks, above all else, the joy of his life. It is I who waits for him, not as once was, he for me (when he could restrain himself) as he tore ahead, leashless. He is sleeping more and eating less, and less compelled to sniff. Always a mellow dog, he is mellower, his independent streak fraying. When I can make myself, I look at him the way the distinguished Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh recommends we look at everything precious to us—as broken, as gone—this counsel not to sadden us, but to heighten our appreciation of all that is rich in our lives. Over the years I’ve seen dogs, and other animals, too, not given their due kindness and respect. (In fact, during the first three years of his life before I adopted him, Ozzie was sorely abused.) It is in their honor that I honor Ozzie the best I can. Thinking about him these past weeks, I was pleased to come across an article featuring the words of C. Jinarajadasa, the fourth international president of the Theosophical Society. C.J. was renowned for his love of life in all forms. When his cat died, after being cared for by him for over ten years, he said, “When she died, I felt that I had performed a task given to me, well and truly . . . I felt and feel that if in all other ways this life should be written down a failure by the Laws of Karma, in one thing I have succeeded—I have loyally and lovingly served one little soul.”
On cold evenings /my grandmother,/with ownership of half her mind —/ the other half having flown back to Bohemia — / spread newspapers over the porch floor/ so, she said, the garden ants could crawl beneath,/ as under a blanket, and keep warm, and what shall I wish for, for myself,/ but, being so struck by the lightning of years,/ to be like her with what is left, that loving. – “In Praise of Craziness of a Certain Kind”/a poem by Mary Oliver

TIP Use grit, (available at Agway, for example) not (only) salt, for icy steps. It establishes traction, whereas salt melts ice, only to have the wetness freeze again. I’ve used grit successfully for years.

CARING IN REMEMBERED WAYS What is suitable for you and me may be overwhelming for people confined to bed, just as their need for us to do for them sometimes may feel overwhelming to us. Some people want to be left alone when they’re sick. Maybe because they enjoy their own uninterrupted thoughts, maybe in part because the person who would be with them is too loud or pushy or icy. Often a visitor or nurse or doctor bursts in and talks too loudly or too much—this, when a pin, dropping, feels like a mortar blast. Dark moods, too, are harmful to them. So are negative thoughts.
A person we’re caring for may be in a coma, or hardly remembering who we are, or lying in bed in the next room with the door closed. Mistakenly, we think we can’t be heard and begin talking in front of this person, or whispering about him or her in a place we think is out of earshot.
I can imagine lying very still, my inner world now my kingdom, and hearing angry familiar voices around me deciding my fate. What I would want is to be addressed directly even if, apparently, I was in a coma—if I was dying I’d want my dear ones to say: “Mama, you go ahead if you want to, or stay if you want to. It’s you that matters, Mama. We love you. We’ll be all right whatever you choose to do.”
“No one should compel himself to show to others more of his inner life than he feels is natural to show. We can do not more than let others judge for themselves what we inwardly and really are, and do the same ourselves with them. The only essential thing is that we strive to have light in ourselves. Our strivings will be recognized by others and when people have light in themselves, it will shine out from them. Then we will get to know each other as we walk together in the darkness, without needing to pass our hands over each other’s faces, or intrude into each other’s hearts.” – Albert Schweitzer

FROM THE KITCHEN slightly tart, slightly sweet, cranberry orange relish. In a food processor, combine fresh raw cranberries, chunks of Valencia oranges minus peel (but maybe a little!) , raisins, and cinnamon. Proportions to suit your taste.

LIVING QUESTIONS These days there is no blanket of comfort we can count on—only scraps of it—a crazy quilt. These tiny gifts of presence—how can we make them count for something? How can we be missionaries of mercy when to varying degrees we ourselves need mercy so much? How can we be more to our children and our family and our friends than what we are—pillars of being more than blurs of doing, a virtual posse of good.

FROM THE NOT-A-DOCTOR A simple cough remedy passed along by a friend. Pour a modest amount of wildflower honey, or other quality honey, over slices of yellow onion you’ve place in a saucer or small jar. (My two cents: Add lemon if you’d like and /or pressed garlic and/or grated ginger root. Trust your intuition.) Cover. Let stand overnight. Use the
liquid that results, a teaspoonful or two at a time.

NOTE: Also, Though I may be away from the Blue Hill peninsula from time to time, I happily continue doing NEIGHBORCARE from the road.
Please do not hesitate to call for service (anytime at all), or just to say hello. 207.266.7673

A NEIGHBORCARE “MANY HANDS MAKE LIGHT WORK” POTLUCK took place in Lois Lock’s home in Surry on Friday, December 9th. Several of us shared fine food and talk and addressed NEIGHBORCARE newsletters. We’ll continue to move the potluck to various peninsula locations.

Not necessarily the same people will be gathering each time. As always, don’t think for a minute you have to be a signed-up volunteer to be part of our group.
PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU’D LIKE TO JOIN IN, IN MARCH.
maggiesdavis@gmail.com (207) 266-7673

"The love of our neighbor means in all its fullness simply being able to say to him, ‘What are you going through?’ and then acting on the answer."
—Simone Weil



Blessings all around you—this winter and in every season,
maggie davis, for NEIGHBORCARE

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maggie davis
207.266.7673
PO Box 370, Blue Hill, ME 04614-0370
e-mail: maggiesdavis@gmail.com



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