NEIGHBORCARE NEWS #39 DECEMBER '07
"No service is too small when given mindfully, with good intention and an open heart."
My friend wrapped her arms around this woman she did not know—this “stranger.” For the moments they were together, she was the woman’s angel—just as hours later, after nightfall, when this same friend and I were driving on a well-traveled, unlit road in a rural neighborhood, we were angels for an old cocker spaniel walking, disoriented, along the center line, and a family living nearby were our angels—rushing from their home to help, sweeping up the shivering dog from us, welcoming him into their modest home, promising to care for him till his owner could be located.
In Vermont, a few weeks earlier, a similar experience: My children had left on a trip to Colorado. I’d spent a few days in their home without them, writing. While I was packing to head back to Maine, my dearly-loved, seventeen-year-old dog Ozzie suffered an episode which I knew, at once, demanded he be put to sleep.
I carried Ozzie outside. Sitting on the front lawn, I soothed him all I could, intending fiercely—though I knew no vet in town and barely anyone else—the absolute best for his last day. There isn’t space enough here to describe the blessings that came to us. Via the heartfulness of one person after another, after another, after another, that day far from home, though riddled with sorrow, provided richness and connection as well—to such a degree, in fact, that my relating its details still feels healing to me and to those who listen.
May I reach/That purest heaven, be to other souls/The cup of strength in some great agony,/Enkindle generous ardor, feed pure love,/Beget the smiles that have no cruelty—/Be the good presence of a good diffused,/And in diffusion ever more intense./So shall I join the choir invisible/Whose music is the gladness of the world. —George Eliot
Picture this: You are old and alone
and abruptly incapacitated. Your family wants to put you in a nursing
home. You spend your days figuring how to show them you’re all
right on your own. Maybe it takes an hour to do dishes and leave the
sink and counters free of crumbs. More time to sweep—maybe from
a wheelchair or from a walker. You can’t get down on your hands
and knees. You can’t use a vacuum cleaner. Wringing out the dish
rag hurts. Reaching hurts. Getting dressed hurts. Your children, no
matter how loving, are looking for signs you are giving way. Feeling
as you do, how can you keep up? No warrior could be more of a hero than
you are. What would it mean for you to have a “tidier” visit—even
just once in a while—someone to perk up your house and your spirit.
(I broke my ankle a couple of years ago, and oh the joy—in
a friend’s home—of having help maintaining my surroundings.)
CARING IN REMEMBERED WAYS It’s not only what we do for our friends who are ill, it’s how we are with them when we do what we do. Do they seem calmer, more uplifted, following their time with us? Or, do they need us to stay but want us to go? And do we want to go? Sometimes dear ones (who like us are never perfect, but to us have been perfect enough) lose their comfort zones or feel them eroding. During illness, they become ripe with fear—delirious with bad habit. We feel assaulted by these “new” people we’ve committed to, these beloveds with their shrinking kingdoms and unceasing spoken and unspoken needs. Making matters more complex, they may consciously or unconsciously notice our reaction, pulling away in shame or defiance, though on the surface all may look the same. Mercy on all of us, muddling through..
"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. —from Thoughts on Solitude/Thomas Merton”
FROM THE KITCHEN a scrumptious, nutritious ten-minute supper: Amy’s canned low-sodium veggie chili (the best for this purpose), sliced sautéed chicken sausage (optional), lightly steamed kale and chopped onion. Combine all. Add chopped tomato, crumbled reduced-fat sheep’s milk feta. No need for rice. For crunch, sprinkle on crispy Chinese noodles from a can.
HONORING THE VOICELESS
When you lose someone you’ve
loved dearly, remember the pet who’s loved that person, too; this
is the pet your beloved loved, who deserves tenderness, no matter the
grief all around. Or maybe your pet has lost a love—a cat friend
beloved, or a dog or a horse; there is no limit here, no good that comes
from measuring another being’s sorrow to our own.
DIETARY TIP: Stevia
extract is a super-sweet, low-calorie dietary supplement that helps
regulate blood sugar and supports the pancreas. The herb, stevia rebaudiana,
has been used for centuries by the Guarani Indians of Paraguay. It is
a wonderful aid to weight loss and weight management because it contains
no calories. In addition, research indicates that it significantly increases
glucose tolerance and inhibits glucose absorption. People who ingest
stevia daily often report a decrease in their desire for sweets and
fatty foods. It may also help speed recovery from minor illnesses. Other
traditional uses of stevia are: lowers elevated blood pressure (hypertension),
digestive aid that also reduces gas and stomach acidity, and for obesity.
The herb acts as general tonic which increases energy levels and mental
acuity. Stevia also inhibits the growth of some bacteria and infectious
organisms, including those that cause tooth decay and gum disease. Many
individuals using stevia have reported a lower incidence of colds and
flu. Many who have used stevia as a mouthwash have experienced a significant
decrease in gum disease. When topically applied, it softens the skin
and smoothes out wrinkles while healing various skin blemishes, acne,
seborrhea, dermatitis, and eczema. When used on cuts and wounds, it
promotes rapid healing without scarring. (from online resource) I use
stevia every day.
Blessings all around youthis winter and in every season,
PO Box 370, Blue Hill, ME 04614-0370
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