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

Phil Elkin
Stonington, ME

WHY I DO THIS: I'm a part of NEIGHBORCARE simply because it seems like the right thing to do. We are all neighbors and reaching out a hand to one another is only natural.

DEAR NEIGHBORCARE FRIENDS: Here’s a New Year’s reminder: When you’re thinking fondly of someone let them know it. Right then. Do it! Don’t say you can’t. Don’t even think you’re too busy. Reach out. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t wait for your friend to stumble across your path. What would it take! These gifts of connection set off little sparks. They are little lights in the world that needs so many. We hold back too much—we do. How better could we spend our time than pouring sunshine into every moment we can manage to—for our good, for others’ good, for greater good—giving ourselves away.
When you meet with people, at work or wherever it may be, give them your fullest attention. You are no longer there primarily as a person, but as a field of awareness, of alert Presence. The original reason for interacting with the other person ~ buying or selling something, requesting or giving information, and so on ~ now becomes secondary. The field of awareness that arises between you becomes the primary purpose for the interaction. That space of awareness becomes more important than what you may be talking about, more important than physical or thought objects. The human Being becomes more important than the things of this world. The arising of that unifying field of awareness between human beings is the most essential factor in relationships on the new earth. —Eckhart Tolle

NEIGHBORCARE NEWS   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.
A NEIGHBORCARE friend who’s a frequent visitor to the Island Nursing Home on our peninsula recommends the service of keeping suet and bird seed in your car in order to refill the few feeders outside the nursing home (this, after checking to determine the bird food that’s particular to each one). Thanks for remembering that this is a commitment not only to the person inside who enjoys watching the birds but to the birds themselves who depend on the seed and suet for their sustenance during the taxing winter months. If everyone joins in: a simple, easy-to-accomplish offering that brings so much pleasure.
“Just after I dedicated my life to service, I felt that I could no longer accept more than I needed while others in the world have less than they need. This moved me to bring my life down to need-level. I thought it would be difficult. I thought it would entail a great many hardships, but I was quite wrong . . . I don’t feel deprived of anything. For me, what I want and what I need are exactly the same, and you couldn’t give me anything I don’t need.” —Peace Pilgrim

HONORING THE VOICELESS  Christmas Day, 2004, I spent hours at Charlie and Betty Berkhalter’s on Deer Isle, enjoying their good company and the company of over twenty dogs they had in their care that day. Charlie has been an animal control officer in Maine for years. Talk about love! The dogs are honored with baths and nail clipping and treats and. . . .

“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 fat) feta.

FROM THE NOT-A-DOCTOR   Plain One Pie canned pumpkin for diarrhea OR constipation in pets—or people! (Home tested. Tastes good.) A tablespoon twice a day. Mix in pet’s food. For humans, straight from the spoon!

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.


A NEIGHBORCARE “MANY HANDS MAKE LIGHT WORK” POTLUCK took place in Ted and Linda Hoskins’ home in Blue Hill on Tuesday, January 16th (December potluck postponed a bit). 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.

“Last night, as I was sleeping,/I dreamt —marvelous error!—/that I had a beehive/here inside my heart./And the golden bees/were making white combs/and sweet honey/from my old failures.”
—“Last night as I was sleeping”/ Antonio Machado

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

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maggie davis
PO Box 370, Blue Hill, ME 04614-0370

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