Friday, December 11, 2009

Help is on the Way

I attended a meeting last night of a support group for caregivers. I’m not sure what I expected to get out of it, but I did go intending to get something. I’d been counseled that my sometimes high blood pressure is a stress issue, perhaps associated with my responsibilities as caregiver. I, who negotiated multi-million dollar agreements for years, and enjoyed it, apparently am being stressed out by taking care of one, little, old lady. It didn’t make sense to me, but I couldn’t argue with how I felt. Feelings are beyond any logic.

The meeting turned out to be more than I expected. I not only felt comfortable seeing that I was not alone in my feelings, but also in being able to speak them aloud to others who understood my feelings. And I understood theirs. None of us were alone.

I think I will continue to go back to those monthly meetings, to talk, and to listen.

In these pages, we’ve considered our life’s journey in the past. The series of blogs: Do You Know the Way, Just a Closer Walk, The Road Not Chosen, and I am Not in Control all looked at our journey and how we often feel alone – but we’re not; certainly God always walks with us. This caregiver’s meeting reminded me of another person on my journey, my neighbor. You know, that guy I am supposed to love, and who is supposed to love me.

Remember that story about the guy whose house got flooded? As the flood waters rose higher and higher, he prayed to God to help him. And then he noticed that there was a door in the ceiling that led to the roof, so he went onto the roof of the house. He prayed more. Then a rowboat came and offered him a ride to safety, but he said no, he had confidence God would save him. Then a helicopter dropped him a line, and he said no, he had confidence God would save him. Then he saw a passing tree and thought it might take him to safety, so he hopped aboard and was washed downstream, and drowned. Meanwhile, the house stood and eventually the floodwaters receded. When the man got to heaven he asked God why he didn’t answer his prayers, but God said: “I opened the door to the roof, and then I sent a boat and then a helicopter. It was you who wouldn’t take my help, but instead tried to save yourself.”

I don’t know if it’s pride or just stupidity that sometimes we won’t take the help offered by others. We think we can handle things alone. God, through our neighbors, often offers to help us, but we say “No, thank you.” Meanwhile we pray for God to help us. You are reading the words of one of the stubborn-est of those fools. I want to, I think I can, I think I MUST do things myself. Alone. And when I fail, as I often do, I wonder why.

I think one of the worst things to happen to America is the breakdown of families, the breakdown of neighborhoods, and the breakdown of small towns – the people who knew each other and cared about each other. People who were aware of their neighbor, and when they got into trouble quickly jumped in to help, regardless of the cost. Maybe we find it hard to obey the commandment to Love Your Neighbor today because we don’t recognize anyone as our neighbor. No one, often not even our own family, commands our attention, much less our love. We are aware of no one’s plight but our own. And so when things get rough in our road of life, there is no one to help us -- save God; there is no one here on earth to love us. And if we should hear the cries of others for help, we say: “Someone should do something.” That’s why everyone turns to Washington for help, they’ve forgotten that THEY are “someone”. They’ve forgotten how to be a neighbor. But that’s not everyone, and it doesn’t have to be you.

It’s not too late to change. It’s only your pride, or stupidity, that’s holding you back. If you want help, or would like to give it, there are countless opportunities. I walked into a room of strangers yesterday, and found my neighbors. You could find a support group for whatever your concern, too. On the internet, you can find support groups for most anything. And if nothing there, you can find support in most any church. All you need do is see someone kneeling in prayer and tap them on the shoulder and ask “could I ask you to pray with me, for a little while?” There’s hardly a man on his knees who would not get up to help his neighbor who asks. And then the three of you could talk – where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there also.

And if it should be you really are content in your loneliness, you have neighbors who aren’t. They need you. Go out to your elderly, your nursing homes, your hospitals. There are people there who need you. There are people there who are your neighbors, crying in their need. Alone. They need you.

This holiday season, especially, do not be alone. Be a neighbor.

If you’ve sometimes prayed in your loneliness or sadness, know that help is on the way. God does not forget his children; not one. But instead of looking to the skies, look around you. Most often he is there, answering your prayers through your neighbor. Let him into your life. Let yourself into his. The journey you make does not have to be alone, your neighbor is here with you. If you let him in; if you’ll join with him.

May your Christmas be merry, indeed. In deed.

One of the deepest forms of poverty a person can experience is isolation.
- Caritas in Veritate, -- Charity in Truth

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