Throughout the past six weeks I have been blessed in abundance, and for the same six weeks adjusting to a new normal of discomfort from a spine worsening with arthritis. There are episodes, as anyone with arthritis knows, that go on for weeks. Eventually the pain lessens and we go on as best we can, seeking productive days and restful nights. My productivity is down. Walking is a challenge—me and my little dog did two miles a day four days a week last June—and sitting to write or paint is limited.
So with that lead in, I offer you this blog post written in a past August:
It was mid-morning and the sun had finally dissolved the fog from the cool damp night. I saw that some of the leaves still glistened with dampness.
Making the bed I pulled the white and periwinkle quilt up and over the pillows and glanced out the upstairs window. The blue Rose-of-Sharon grows just below. Moving about the blossoms was a Ruby Throated Hummingbird.
He seemed to be moving a bit slower—maybe the cool night slowed him down. During the summer the hummers tend to dart about the gardens, frenetic in their search for food. On this morning the little guy was more systematic, feeding steadily from one group of blossoms before moving on to the next. I suspected he was laboring to build up reserves for his migratory journey south.
Labor, lavoro, arbeit, labeur, trabajo, no matter what language, it is to toil, to strive towards a goal, to work for gain. Like most people, I associate labor with something tangible. The little hummer was acquiring food.
Lately I have been reflecting on soulful laboring. It too is for gain…of peace in love.
I work daily to accept changes in my life. Aging is normal, premature aging is annoying. What I gain in working to accept, is a drawing closer to Our Lord. In moving nearer I’ve discovered he has blessed me with the gift of blessing others who come to my aid.
We’ve all heard that it is better to give than to receive, and I have adjusted my views of being a recipient. To willingly accept someone’s gift of assistance is to double the blessing for the giver. It kind of goes like this: The essence of kindnessand generosity, which are two Fruits of the Spirit, are expressed through a great desire to do good for others. It is in the fulfilling as well as in the desiring to give that these fruits grow. This virtue runs throughout the Bible and we first read of it in Genesis 18 when Abraham saw three men in the hot sun and “ran from his tent” begging them for the favor to serve them—for them to bless him in his ability to come to their aid. We see this same yearning to assist when Mary “goes in great haste” to the pregnant Elizabeth to assist the aged woman, and Elizabeth blesses her.
What I have found happening in my little corner of the world is that by being blessed with someone’s help—they being first blessed by the Holy Spirit to act—I bless them secondly for their loving deed. They grow in holiness and I grow as well by letting go of self deprecating thoughts. To be generous with myself, as my abilities are redefined, can be a chore. To be kind and gentle applies not only to our words and deeds with others, but to our interior dialog as well.
There are those who unexpectedly assist me—reaching for products over my head, carrying heavy boxes of kitty-litter, lifting cumbersome bags of groceries into the back of the car. Of course I thank them, but I go one step further and ask their name. There are few things sweeter to the soul than to hear one’s name spoken in a blessing or prayer. For a moment in time those words, wrapped safely around someone’s name, infuse peace and the purest joy.
To be acknowledged is to feel purposeful in your work. To be blessed for your blessing of help is to acquire a piece of heaven on earth…and gain nourishment for the journey ahead.
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