Taking Care


 

 

“Take care.” It’s a popular thing to say, as friends part, or end a phone call.

There’s a great need now to take care in our culture. I’m seeing a lot of pain, a lot of anxiety, a lot of doubt and uncertainty as to who we are as a nation and a culture. There’s a lot of doubt, of losing a sense of purpose.

When I watch the evening news, or peruse the headlines in the paper, I find myself emotionally wringing my hands, or throwing them up in anger. I’m close to my boiling point.

“What can I do about it?” I wonder. How can I take care?

Not much, I’ve concluded. But I can make a difference where I live.

I can take care in my community. And, it is something I can do, rather than sit on the couch, tap my foot, and bemoan to my wife about how things could be different. Talking back to the TV doesn’t seem to do anything.

A few weeks ago, a friend suddenly lost his son. It was a great tragedy, but what could I do? I still don’t know what I can do, but I did reach out to him. I went to his house and just sat with him, letting him talk, letting us sit there in silence. He was not alone, and I just listened. I went with him to the funeral home, and prayed with him, holding him as he cried.

At the funeral, I spoke the words he wanted said. I welcomed people, listened to them, and held them close. We cried and we grieved, and my friend was not alone.

A friend should not grieve alone, and there was a community of grief, holding my friend close. And, maybe that’s all that we can do, grieving together, taking care of each other, in that awful journey of grief and shock and bewilderment.

“I don’t know how to do this,” my friend said.

“None of us do,” I replied. “But we take care of ourselves and each other.”

“That’s all we can do.”

Another friend had a heart attack, and I sent my prayers, a few words of comfort, a message of “take care”. And, he is, and I am.

Another friend needed to talk, to get a worry off their chest, and let it out. So, I listened, and loved them, and listened some more. As we parted, we said those words, “take care”, and we will and we did.

I cared for a public space this morning, a small garden in a parking lot, often busy with people on a mission, with business to take care of, the never ending errands of life. I pruned, weeded, planted new plants, and added some fertilizer just before the next spring shower poured down. Most visitors won’t notice it, but some will. And, this summer, as the plants grow and bloom, and the empty spaces fill in, there will be some beauty to be enjoyed, a quiet respite on a busy day. That garden will “take care” of someone in need of that quiet moment.

What I did wasn’t much and it won’t make the evening news, but in other ways it was a lot. I made a small difference in one corner of the world.

I “took care” and, in this crazy world, that makes a difference.

 

–Neal Lemery

4/14/2017

 

 

The Morning You Died


 

 

The morning you died

The glorious light in the east

Just before sunrise pulled me to the

Side of the road, so I could stop in the silence

Before the dawn, and take the new light

Into my heart, pausing to simply breathe in the new day.

 

Just breathe. Just take it in,

And be in the quiet beauty of the summer morning.

“Each day, each moment is precious,” you’d tell me, again

reminding me that life is to be lived, with everything we have.

 

The morning you died

I shared coffee with an old friend,

Our laughter filling the café with good times,

Our friendship old and alive, rich with promise

For this special day.

 

The morning you died, I watered my garden, so the

Flowers would bloom again, and the seeds I had planted

Would give us food when summer ran into fall,

When the leaves would turn to gold and fly away in the wind,

Promising to come again next spring.

 

Next year, spring will come again, yet you are gone.

I will hear your laughter, and your delicious humor,

And your love of being with everyone in the garden of our lives.

You, teaching us, once again, that life is to be enjoyed,

And every moment is part of the dance we call

Life, and you will remind us, once again,

That we don’t really die, that life is just

Part of the dance, part of the circle, and we are all

One.

 

–Neal Lemery