Periodically I’ll see one of those memes on Facebook or the web that reminds us to be patient with others, whose personal difficulties may be undetected:
This one in particular comes to mind: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
I’ve been focused on my own family’s struggles (understandably, I think; I’m not going to beat myself up about it) pretty much since the first weekend in November. If you’ve been following along, you know the peaks and valleys, and the plateaus, one of which we are in right now.
But today I’m reflecting on so many people I know and love who are dealing with their own hardships — my dear friend Courtney’s parents in Shreveport who are facing the aftermath of complications from an extensive post- open-heart surgery hospital stay (her dad) and now bronchitis and pneumonia (her mom). Another sweet friend whose stepdaughter is in treatment for an eating disorder. My wonderful in-laws, who are on a journey parallel to ours with my husband’s grandmother. My amazing stepmother, Denise, who will undergo reconstructive surgery this summer in the aftermath of a breast cancer fight. A running friend whose dad has dementia. Still another who is caring for her dad, who is recovering from a stroke.
And there are not just hardships with the failing health of aging parents. A lovely young woman suffers from debilitating anxiety. A layoff extends into several months of joblessness. A mentally ill father is jailed for domestic abuse. A daughter is in remission from cervical cancer.
So many people I know are touched by tragedy or trouble. It’s life, isn’t it? We return to the earth, and sometimes we suffer a little or a lot along the way.
Yet the joy in all of these difficulties comes shining through the clouds of despair and hopelessness. I’ve written about this before. It is that sense of community we share with one another — a phone call made at just the right moment. A card arriving in the mail. A hug or word of kindness. An offer of help. A meal.
In his essay “The Body and the Earth,” Wendell Berry writes that “Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Conviviality is healing. To be healed we must come with all the other creatures to the feast of Creation.”
I am so very grateful today for the community that supports my family in the continued healing from the Adventures With Mama J, and in the healing that is yet to come. In turn, I am trying my best to do my part to be a part of others’ community as well, as we all come together to the feast of Creation.
Next post: “I used to have nice legs.”