Category Archives: caregiving

On a platform of service

Julia and I just returned home from a trip through the Midwest and continued the celebration of family and extended family with our dear friend Barbara, who was visiting from California.
We were talking about looking at our lives as a spiritual journey, acknowledging the service those around us offer and then realized that we, as individuals, don’t often see the extent of the service that we offer others.
Our friend Barbara is a nurse in SF Bay Area, California. We knew she was doing good things for the underserved in our region. We did not know that her caregiving began in the eighties when she was put in charge of an AIDS unit. This was right at the start of the pandemic when few people understood the extent of what was happening.  The other nurses recognized, even subconsciously, that Barbara had the aptitude to pioneer this task. Barbara is compassionate and magnetizes a person’s trust which she does not betray. She commented that she “didn’t think about the challenge; you just did it.”  It made me realize that if you had talked with Mother Teresa she might not have thought what she was doing was anything more than routine work. 
Where any one of us might shy away from having to bathe someone who was sick, Barbara lit up talking about how healing it was getting people in the water.  Giving someone a sponge bath, she said not only cleansed them but restored their being, gave them dignity.
For many years now, Barbara has been working at a clinic where she treats the homeless. We know Barbara as a musician and as a loyal friend.  She doesn’t aggrandize herself with her work. It was stirring to see her consider her impact, as if for the first time, while we discussed it over lunch.  
We each have various methods of being of service.  Reflecting on our own lives, can remind us of how and where we are needed.  Ego and doubt can try to punch our dance card but the dance floor is vast and there is a lot going on out and in (t)here.  Barbara talked about working from a platform where her outside anxieties and other people’s opinions didn’t interfere with her focus.
Barbara was taking a summer break to travel around and visit family and friends so she could charge up. “Connection, it’s my thing,” she said as before we both got in our cars and drove away.
Today, we are catching up on all the business that piles up when we go away but are also drawing from the strength of our connection to those we love.
Here is a visualization I have been enjoying:  With the intake of breath, see your heart and the hearts of everyone you love becoming illuminated, strengthened.  With the outbreath see that illumination rippling out concentrically.  This can extend to illuminating the hearts of all living things but building up naturally is probably a good idea.
May you be nurtured by what you offer in love.