NEIGHBORCARE NEWS #38 DECEMBER '06
"No service is too small when given mindfully, with good intention and an open heart."
As a means of recording family history as well as the voice of
someone you love who is ill or dying, cassette tapes are terrific. (Video
taping’s a treasure, too, but only if your loved one doesn’t
mind.)This reminder via a NEIGHBORCARE
friend who’s been receiving the newsletter for years. And her
mother was soothed by books on tape—the company of the reader’s
voice—when she couldn’t sleep at night. The tape could be
turned on or off at will.
“Charlie?” I’d noticed one small dog wearing a Santa hat, and pointed at her. Charlie laughed. “You just try to take that hat away from her!” One time I called, I happened to ask how many dogs were at home that day. “Twenty-seven,” Charlie told me. “But I don’t hear a sound,” I said. And Charlie said, “They’re up in our bedroom watching the animal channel.”
These are dogs that have been deserted by summer people. They are old dogs—and dogs with afflictions—who could never easily find a home though Charlie has found homes for many, he and Betty riding around many Sundays to check on them. (Bo is twenty three.) They are dogs people have left in Charlie’s (and Betty’s) good care while on vacation.
Though many folks have been generous in their support, there have been lean years—winters in particular. Imagine the upkeep for so many animals in need. If you’re moved to help out, mail donations to Charlie Berkhalter, Dog House Shelter, 490 Sunshine Rd., Deer Isle, ME 04627 (348-9303).
“And then I know that I am not alone, that none of us is alone, that the earth itself swings through space in brilliant company. The fireflies, the rabbit under the woodpile, the swallows in the eaves, the women in Peninsula kitchens and their men plodding up from the tiny harbors, the solitary keepers of the light on their sea-washed distant rock and I are all bound together as parts of a colossal plan, the success of which depends equally on the soundness of the greatest and the smallest part.” —Louise Dickinson Rich/The Peninsula
CARING IN REMEMBERED WAYS When you visit someone close to you who is in the hospital for tests or an operation, your heart is raw. Taking a moment, you can imagine how raw others’ hearts must be in similar situations. In the waiting room, or the very next bed, might be someone, unvisited, who could use your smile. There are people who go to post offices and supermarkets and hospital waiting rooms in order to experience human contact that will sustain them. A smile or a greeting can feed one lonely person longer than we think. When personal crisis opens our hearts rather than pricking us to set boundaries around them, no one will go uncared for. Cries of relief will be heard around the world.
“Refuse to fall down./If you cannot refuse to fall down,/refuse to stay down./If you cannot refuse to stay down,/lift your heart toward heaven,/and like a hungry beggar,/ask that it be filled,/and it will be filled./You may be pushed down./You may be kept from rising./But no one can keep you/from lifting your heart/toward heaven—/only you./It is in the middle of misery/that so much becomes clear./The one who says nothing good/came of this,/is not yet listening.” –Clarissa Pinkola Estes/“The Faithful Gardener”
TIPS 1) Keep bags of dried pet food shut tight so food doesn’t get stale. Picture eating crackers from a box that’s been left open! 2) For lighting fires, try corn chips as starters—the cheaper the corn chips the better. I was amazed to see how long they burn.
FROM THE KITCHEN
Easy pea, mung bean and sweet potato soup: however much you make,
use mung beans, green split peas (and spring water). Add scoops of baked—nearly
candied—garnet yams, minced onion, garlic granules, (hot) salsa,
Braggs aminos (not soy sauce), black pepper. When the soup’s almost
done, don’t forget generous amounts of fresh chopped cilantro
(on top and cooked in) and just enough cinnamon to make you wonder what
that lovely taste is! Top the soup in the bowl with crumbled (reduced
LIVING QUESTIONS One day we’ll have a center where people who aren’t yet dying but who can’t be/don’t want to be alone at home can come, free, for nourishment of every kind. There will be skylights above every bed, flowers in every room, deeply nutritious food.
And/or people in each town will rally around neighbors they don’t know too well—the way they rally around their friends—to do all they can. Maybe a person or two will invite people into their homes to care for them, with NEIGHBORCARE volunteers in the community providing support. Perfect for a family who’d like a surrogate grandparent in their midst.
We are spread to the four corners in this world. Our mothers are without their children. Our children are without their grandparents. People suffering natural disasters are without homes. (What a boon if many of ours, empty most of the year, could be used well.) When more and more we become family to each other, no matter our actual family ties, what greater living legacy could we leave to nourish those who follow? What greater example could we live?
It used to be, on many days, that I could close my eyes and sense myself to be perfectly happy. I have wondered lately if that feeling will ever come back. It’s a worthy thing to wonder, but maybe being perfectly happy is not really the point. Maybe that is only some modern American dream of the point, while the truer measure of humanity is the distance we must travel in our lives, time and again, “twixt two extremes of passion—joy and grief,” as Shakespeare put it. However much I’ve lost, what remains to me is that I can still speak to name the things I love. And I can look for safety in giving myself away to the world’s least losable things. —Small Wonder/Barbara Kingsolver
NOTE: Some NEIGHBORCARE volunteers prefer to serve (those who are chronically ill or injured or dying or grieving) in hands-on, personal ways. Others would rather shovel or stack wood or give rides. For some, service is a way of life. For others, it is another part of life. The way we see service via NEIGHBORCARE is that any contribution offered with good heart is of inestimable value.
Blessings all around youthis winter and in every season,
PO Box 370, Blue Hill, ME 04614-0370
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