This past weekend I delivered some breakfast treats to a colleague who had a medical procedure. Our work team had a sign up to take this lovely person a variety of snacks and meals so that she would not have to fend for herself as she recovers. As we chatted, she showed me the pile of care packages she had received from our team and other friends. She said, “Nobody should be doing this; you all have your own families to take care of.”
Nonsense. Bullshit. My dear colleague is totally wrong. What we are trying to do – show care and compassion – is exactly what we should be doing. We might take her a thing she doesn’t like or need by accident, but to actively give love and care to those around us is precisely what human beings should do.
I can’t count the number of times I have taken a meal or sent flowers or done an errand or sat in the hospital with or watched children for friends and colleagues who had something happening – usually an uncomfortable or unhappy thing.
I have also been on the receiving end of such love. Years ago I was chaperoning a school trip. We were four hours away from home and ready for competition when I came down with what turned out to be an emergent case of gallstones. After surgery and several days hospitalization, I was able to go home. My whole school – students, parents, colleagues, administration – brought my family dinners, snacks, and flowers. That’s what it’s all about. Taking care of each other.
What would the world be if we did not do this? Well, I have an example of that, too. Years ago my middle sister died unexpectedly as the result of a single car crash outside of Atlanta. At the time I was an active member of a church. No one came to visit me after this tragedy. Not one person. Not the pastor. It was early December when my sister died, and by the time Christmas programs rolled around at church, I still wasn’t “feeling it.”
I left in the middle of Christmas Eve service to stand outside and breathe and cry. It was not a year I felt like celebrating much of anything, and hypocrisy weighed me down. After the holiday passed, a woman in the church greeted me on a Sunday and told me that she had thought about stepping outside to comfort me, but she didn’t want to miss the Christmas program.
Pretty bleak, huh?
You see, if it’s not the whole of the reason we are here, it is a part of it: to love and care for each other. That woman didn’t need to tell me she didn’t want to comfort me anymore than those who brought me meals needed to tell me they loved me. Actions do speak loudly.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday I was honored to be a part of “A Show of Gratitude” sponsored by a local theater. There was music, storytelling and poetry – all in support of a local family. We are all connected. We need each other.
My hope is that this season – and all year long – we all can reach out and actively love each other. That’s what it’s all about.