Caring for Each Other

Caring for Each Other

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.

9 Comments

  1. Gail Thompson

    Thank you for sharing your trip. It is truly inspiring. The giving and attending to people not in my own circles moves me too. I feel our love is the same though directed differently. Your beauty shines so we can all see it.

  2. Celonia Walden

    Thank you, Anne! You were one of the first people to reach out to me when I came to UUCC back in 2008. I am truly blessed to know you and call you my friend.

  3. Robin Hessey

    Anne, I feel your loving presence whenever you are in the room. Thank you for your reflection here and for your dedication to us all.

  4. Alice Pham

    Anne, you have been an essential listener and helper to so many. Your warmth and genuine caring have helped many of us at difficult times. Thank you.

  5. Robert S Jackson

    Anne, Your quiet caring is a principle feature of your personality I have appreciated over our years of friendship. You share that caring with so many different people. I feel blessed to know you. Thanks.

  6. Becky Reese

    Anne,
    Thanks for sharing, and especially thanks for the consistent caring you offer to others! You are a role model for others in the community. One dream of mine is for us at UUCC to provide deep caring and support to each other broadly. I’d love to see us build structures to help us expand this kind of support and care beyond the contacts we make in small groups or UUCC activities, to the congregation as a whole. Karuna is a wonderful gift for those experiencing serious and chronic challenges, and I’d like to see us develop the capacity to consistently provide support to others for the full range of joys and sorrows in our lives. To do that, we need mechanisms to keep us informed about the needs and experiences of others. I’d love to see this be a responsibility and commitment of membership. I’m wondering what others think about this idea.

  7. Tanya Gamble

    Anne, thank you for your work and gift of helping others and your quiet, gentle caring and compassion. Your warm smile and the light in your eyes radiate loving kindness and encouragement.

  8. Bernadette Rock

    Oh, Anne! Beautifully written! Beautifully expressed! Thank you for your heart for others! I’ve experienced you first hand, and am richer for it! Keep on my Karuna Sister!
    Love,
    Bernie

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