Years ago, I read a book that promised me more peace, joy, and a sense of fulfillment if, every morning, I would ask myself, “who needs my care and attention today?” and then reach out to the individual(s) whose name(s) pop into my mind.
This morning, when I asked God, “Who needs my care and attention today?” and my friend Sara’s name came upon the screen of my mind, I thought, “Oh, no God. May I please have another assignment?” But God’s assignment seemed to be anchored in concrete.
I procrastinated. And instead of calling Sara right away, I went about my business. Because you see, many months ago, Sara was diagnosed with breast cancer. Following her diagnoses for a few weeks I paid attention to her, but then for the past 10 months she hasn’t heard a word from me; so, I was embarrassed and ashamed. I am supposed to be a spokesperson caring for those who are suffering, and yet I had ignored and neglected Sara.
The rest of my day unfolded this way:
For hours, I could not find my cell phone. (This made me panicky and frustrated as I searched and searched.) Also, the blueberries on our blueberry farm were soft and couldn’t be fresh packed. (This makes for a grumpy husband.) When I went outside to get the mail, I left the front door open and when I returned, I saw strange mini puddles of a mysterious liquid in my foyer and all over my white carpet. Then I heard unfamiliar noises and discovered a bird had flown into my house and was very nervous and thus the puddles. How does one get a panicky bird out of one’s home? It was turning out to be a pretty lousy afternoon. One might say, it was a terrible, no good, horrible day*.
And of course, there was still my assignment from God. Finally, I mustered the courage and called Sara and expressed my regrets and asked for her forgiveness. Sara was very gracious. She forgave me. We had a nice chat.
Later when at last I laid my head down on my pillow for the evening, I remembered that there was a part of the day which made me smile and give thanks. That part was when I cared for Sara and she cared for me.
* I know that some of you who read this are experiencing truly painful and life-shattering events, and my point is not to minimize your chaos. My point is that even amid terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, we can experience some peace, joy and love by caring for another person who is suffering.