Sunday, January 18, 2009

Visiting Those In Need

I knew it was going to be a busy day so I got up early, filled the house with the aroma of Viennese coffee and frying bacon, and quietly began my day. I was able to eat some breakfast, drink some coffee, and read the Sunday paper before spending an hour or so hauling all the packed away Christmas decorations outside to the shed where they are stored. After a brief rest and a quick shower, I met three of my siblings at a local health care facility where another family member is dealing with some mental health issues. I feel nothing but compassion for him and I did all I could to help him believe he is not alone, we would get through this, and we would get through this together. The world is full of fragile people and my heart goes out to those who have trouble dealing with life's challenges because of emotional issues and circumstances beyond their control. Emotional and mental health issues are much more than someone just having a bad day.

My next visit was to my Dad in the nursing home. Today is his birthday and he is 84 years old. Most of my siblings and a few other family members were all present. We sang him happy birthday and gave him a cup cake with a candle in it. He very much enjoyed all the company and the attention. I could tell his spirits were high. Even some of the other nursing home residents joined our little birthday party. The staff at the nursing notice that my father is not lacking in visitors and that he is visited by family on a very regular basis.

As I read the morning paper today I saw an obituary for the father of a childhood friend. I immediately had the urge to stop by the funeral home and I hoped the events of my day would allow it. Fortunately I was able to fit it in. I walked into the funeral home and saw someone who I thought my friend. I quietly spoke his name with an implied question mark behind it. He responded "Yes" and I said, "Do you know who I am"? He said, "Yes, but I can't remember your name"! I introduced myself and he immediately knew who I was. We had gone to eight years of grade school together and also played on several sports teams. We had not seen one another in approximately 45 years! One memory I have is both of us being young teenagers, riding a bus downtown, and going to a movie theater to see the Beatles in their movie called "Help"! We sat through it twice. That was so long ago.

Today's Buddhist thought...

Now, there are many, many people in the world, but relatively few with whom we interact, and even fewer who cause us problems. So, when you come across such a chance for practicing patience and tolerance, you should treat it with gratitude. It is rare. Just as having unexpectedly found a treasure in your own house, you should be happy and grateful to your enemy for providing that precious opportunity.
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

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