When reflecting on my decision to join our Karuna caregivers group I remember people whose kind and compassionate giving was spontaneous and heartfelt. Raised Catholic, my first example as a child was the Good Samaritan in the New Testament. The Good Samaritan, this gentle figure lowering himself to the ground to care and comfort a stranger, was a role model to me. Did he really exist? Yes, if only in my mind and heart.
Jesus, simultaneously God and the son of God, was not real to me. However, I dutifully worshipped him even as I knew I could not emulate him. But, the Good Samaritan? I could try to walk in his shoes. I have tried in smaller ways. My heart lifted when my comforting presence was accepted in those instances.
My ties to the Catholic Church waned but its fundamental teaching of kindness and compassion continued to resonate within me. Acts of kindness and compassion to those not within my circle of family and friends were diminished by the distracted busyness of living.
Eventually, in my fifties I felt a strong need to be in a faith community, one that did not bind my mind but allowed it to grow and discover itself; one that encouraged me to make my own meaning of this journey from birth to death. I found the openness of Unitarian Universalism refreshing and challenging.
One of the activities within UUCC was Karuna, which offered the opportunity to directly and personally connect to one who might want a comforting presence. I am fortunate that I can bring to mind the faces of compassionate and loving individuals who helped me through trying times.
Through Karuna, I have been in the presence of some remarkable, accomplished people. Their memories, their stories charmed me and often amazed me. Now I remember to remember that the wonders and uncertainties in life are shared experiences that we hold collectively and connectively.
Caring for each other is a spiritual practice embedded in Unitarian Universalism. This is where I see the immense value of religion, from the Catholicism that I do not actively practice to UUCC where I am an active member, though perhaps less so in this pandemic and as my husband’s caregiver. My spiritual journey continues to unfold in the practice of Buddhism where I am understanding more fully that kindness and compassion are enhanced with wisdom. There is still so much to learn. Still so much to give and receive. This is interesting stuff.