NEIGHBORCARE NEWS #34 DECEMBER '05
"No service is too small when given mindfully, with good intention and an open heart."
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
Blessings all around youthis winter and in every season,
PO Box 370, Blue Hill, ME 04614-0370
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