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


Barbara Wright WHY I DO THIS: Having had a career in home health care with all its complexities, it is refreshing to be associated with those willing to serve any individual with any request, with no remuneration or 'red tape' involved. Assisting neighbors has enriched my life in countless ways and it has been a privilege to become acquainted with many wonderful NEIGHBORCARE volunteers.


These are back-to-school days, though "school" frequently is at home now and not in the classroom. As ever, the question is what should we be teaching our children? Better it might be, what can we awaken in them? There is more information around than ever, as well as (for some young people at least) more opportunities to choose. But is it more information children need? Is it more choices? Or, except for love and understanding which no one can have too much of, is more a cloak that chokes a vital fire in young people by dispelling the silence they require to be in touch with who they truly are? Many counter more by adding to it. Now character building has been added to curricula nationwide. Many speak of teaching children to be kind and respectful, as if young people weren’t born shining–and ready, at earliest opportunity, to embody kindness and respectfulness.

We cannot teach young people to be good. We can only inspire them to it–remind them by blooming, ourselves, in this direction. Otherwise, what we see may look like good but be little felt and, like some baseball teams, impart little depth and staying power.

A sea of talk regarding character and kindness education pales in contrast to our children witnessing the most minuscule drops of compassion, consistently and genuinely issued. And compassion can be genuinely issued only when it is birthed in the heart. And the heart can be coaxed to open and to birth compassion only when it sees deeply the story of the life being tended to in that moment. The more we see story everywhere, focusing deeply to see causes, the more we increase our capacity to feel compassion for every living being. Forgiveness blossoms as well, then, which is not really forgiveness at all, but understanding that lives deep.

It is no sentimental thing to honor life around us. Our children, our pets, our partners and parents and spouses deserve this honor, but they are not the only ones. Recently, a friend driving in Downeast Maine saw a chipmunk dead just ahead of her, hit the moment before and still intact. What she witnessed next, as she slowed, both astonished and moved her. A second chipmunk had run out from the groundcover. Human(e)ly–desperately–this chipmunk tried to pull the first chipmunk to the side of the road, its tiny paws on the dead chipmunk’s shoulders. Who would discount the urgency and heartbreak the second chipmunk was feeling in that moment?

Even our chairs and tables have stories (i.e. Where did the materials for these items come from? Who made them and what is their history? Who delivered them, and what is their history? What is the history of these persons’ countries and cultures?).

The richness we feel from familiar objects is determined by the measure of care infused into the creation of them. That is why when we are surrounded with items mass produced–and roads despoiled of their curves and their ledge and their old, old trees, and mountains and rivers disrespected–we sense their stories missing (or degraded) and are lonely and drained trying to maintain our own story–our own aliveness–in the midst of the barrenness we feel.

Giving everything importance, we treat everything importantly. Defending life that is most vulnerable, we inspire our children to do the same. Our compassion colors, vividly, how we think and speak and act. It determines whom we vote for. As we pro-gress (and, yes, we can choose what we’re for and wish to advance toward), it is a banner of wholeness and hope–not blindness and disconnection–we carry. Quality education for all.


selections from A Warrior’s Creed—Anonymous Samurai, fourteenth century

I have no parents–I make the heavens and earth my parents. I have no home–I make awareness my home. I have no life or death–I make the tides of breathing my life and death. I have no divine power–I make honesty my divine power. I have no means–I make understanding my means. I have no magic secrets–I make character my secret. . . I have no designs–I make "seizing opportunity by the forelock" my design. I have no miracles–I make right-action my miracles. I have no principles–I make adaptability to all circumstances my principles. I have no tactics–I make emptiness and fullness my tactics. . . I have no armor–I make benevolence and righteousness my armor. . . I have no sword–I make absence of self my sword.


Abraham, the young man from the Sudan who was resettled in Vermont following ten years of pointed loss and challenges, didn’t make it to our cabinhouse in the woods this August, as planned. Abraham called to say that he’d been selected to attend a conference in Washington, DC, involving other Sudanese refugees, countrywide, and our weekend was the conference weekend. I hope to see Abraham and his shining smile very soon.

–More and more we are inspired to look upon one another as heroes. Diane Lee, awardwinning filmmaker who was present at the very beginning of neighborcare, when it scarcely was a twinkle in the eye, died Tuesday, August 27th, in a two car crash in Orland. Considering the size of the crowd attending her memorial service on the Bucksport waterfront the following Sunday, she, too, was– and will continue to be–a hero to many. Great hands, feet and presence, magnificent looking in black, (which she always wore, being colorful enough herself, someone astutely pointed out), hair blond and untamed––voice, sometimes thunder and lightning that could fill a room and knock you over, sometimes honey, for soothing–this woman throughout mountainous change, unrelenting physical ordeals and golden triumphs chose life. With boundless spirit, she spoke her mind which, routinely, soared beyond our galaxy then dived to cosmic kingdoms within. My conversations with her–like her conversations with others–pulsed with talk of planetary alignments and universal connections and promise. At the end of them–or during–what moved me most was how Diane, hearing a poignant or thrilling or horrifying story, would croon from the perfect place in her (in tune with the perfect place in all of us), "Bless your heart," or "Bless their hearts" and I would feel in that moment as if every cranny in the universe were safe as a cradle.

–news from neighborcare "south": a woman with an elderly mother and a 30+ daughter with cerebral palsy in Rockland needed help two evenings a month so she could serve on the board of a non-profit organization. She also wanted one full day so she could take a CPR class. No previous volunteers could help with this, so the neighborcare "keeper" in Rockland shifted into neighborcare’s next level of service–i.e.upon request, if volunteers cannot not be found, locating someone willing to help, for pay. The very day the request came in the nc keeper happened to go to town. There she met a woman she knows who reported she suddenly was out of work. Not only did this woman want the caregiving job. She has a grandchild with cerebral palsy. Such a match! Such a wonder!

FROM THE KITCHEN  Quick’n easy nutritious tacos "plus"? Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Sauté onions, garlic, "gimme lean"/seitan/tofu/chicken/turkey burger/garden burger/you-name-it, plus any favorite chopped leftover vegetable, sauté a bit more, add generous dollops of salsa, a sprinkling of cumin, low salt/no salt added aduki beans/black beans, strips of pepperjack cheese/pepperjack soycheese, a bit of pure water to create just a touch of broth, stuff into taco shells and pop into the oven till the shells soften slightly and the cheese melts. A tasty, fun dinner in 20 minutes or so.

If you don’t read much else on the internet this fall, please don’t miss the five excerpts from the book The Cancer Monologue Project (edited by Tanya Taylor and Pamela Thompson) due out, nationwide, early October 2002, from MacAdam Cage publishers. These excerpts are from a collection of thirty original stories written and performed by cancer survivors. "Each voice is unique, and yet each one touches upon the universal in portraying lives that have taken unexpected turns." For more information or to read excerpts from the book, go to

SHOPPING TIP  To avoid forgetting items at the market, I created an A-Z shopping list on the computer—nice large, dark print and complete with check boxes. I began by listing everything I could think of, easily (worded in a way that would be easy to find– e.g. sweet potatoes, rather than potatoes (sweet). For the next several days I added every item I could think of, then printed out about five copies. of my list (ten lists in all, using both sides of a 81/2 by 14 piece of paper).The list eases shopping time more than I can say and can always be updated.

VIEW FROM THE BED  "The reason we don’t give up, easily, our own control over people in our care is because their kingdoms don’t look like kingdoms–a pill bottle here instead of there, tea at three o’clock instead of four–what could it matter? Requests seem sometimes as if they are contrived to irritate us. This adds to increasing pressure and weariness we’re feeling.

Then we remind ourselves that we aren’t the one with only a pill bottle to look at day after day. We take time to picture being helpless. We remember, no matter when we may have experienced this, how we’ve felt being confined to bed. When we do these things, the understanding comes. Then when we’re called from the book we’re writing or the cake we’re baking or the seeds we’re planting or the thoughts we’re thinking by those we’re caring for who are in chronic pain or powerless without us, be we author or cook or farmer or philosopher at work, we’re less likely to see them as nuisance. We realize they, too, may have had passions that consumed them. We understand that their kingdom, so very small, may mean as much to them as our grander realm means to us." maggie davis/Caring in Remembered Ways: The Fruit of Seeing Deeply

"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

FROM THE NOT-A-DOCTOR:  Calms (formerly Calms Forte, I believe) by hyland’s is a mild, non-habit-forming aid for reducing nervous tension and sleeplessness. The remedy contains homeopathic preparations of chamomile, passion flower, hops and oatstraw. I and many others I’ve spoken with about it have found Calms to have only beneficial effects.

LIVING QUESTIONS  Seeing poignancy everywhere, character actor Billy Bob Thornton describes himself as happy and sad all the time. At the end of each day, reminding himself of his human responsibility, he asks himself, "Who do you love and why, and how do you do it?"
"To the question whether I am a pessimist or an optimist, I answer that my knowledge is pessimistic, but my willing and hoping are optimistic." –Albert Schweitzer

CAPTURE THE FIRE OF SUMMER Have a lovely glass or crystal bowl you don’t use much? Fill it with clear water for floating the garden’s last burst of golden marigolds and red nasturtium–their short stems don’t do that well in vases. "Lights up" best on a south-facing windowsill.


took place in my home on Monday, Sept. 16th. Several of us—again some new faces—shared fine food and talk and addressed NEIGHBORCARE newsletters.

Not necessarily the same people will be gathering each time. Don't think for a minute you have to be a signed-up volunteer to be part of our group.


may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it's Sunday and may I be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
and there's never been quite such a fool who
could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile.
        –e.e. cummings

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

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maggie davis
PO Box 370, Blue Hill, ME 04614

Copyright © 1998 - 2019 maggie davis. All Rights Reserved.