Posts Tagged ‘care’

I was waiting in line at the post office recently (enjoying the Mary Tyler Moore episode playing on their new TV), and witnessed something that made my day…

A stooped older gentleman came in asking about the keys to his post office box, which he’d misplaced. One of the postal workers – who clearly knew him by name – immediately said: Oh, you left your box open last week, so we put the keys in it for you, honey. Her colleague retrieved the keys and handed them over, and with some gentle teasing, the man went on his way.

I loved everything about that interaction: the fact that the man got his keys back, the fact that the workers instantly knew where they were, the kindness in the woman’s voice as she called him honey. (She was probably young enough to be his granddaughter.) It was such a moment of care, in a busy city on a grey Thursday afternoon, that it delighted me simply to witness it.

I always feel privileged when I get a peek into moments of tenderness between people, and this sweet instance of neighborly kindness – in a business setting, no less – felt especially precious. I appreciated, too, the not-so-subtle reminder that, as the Mary Tyler Moore theme song reminds us, love is all around.


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For several years now, I’ve been following Jenny Williams’ work online – she runs the adorable Carrot Top Paper Shop on Etsy, and her Instagram account and newsletter are full of sweet literary goodness. She sells prints, mugs, bookmarks and stickers with quotes from our favorite heroines (real and fictional), and like me, she’s an Anne Shirley fan from way back.

I ordered Jenny’s literary heroines calendar for my kitchen wall this year, and I love the simple design: each month features a drawing of a beloved character, along with a banner naming one of her essential qualities. When I flipped the calendar to April this week, Fern Arable was looking back at me. The banner under her portrait says simply, “Compassionate.”

Fern is the (human) heroine of Charlotte’s Web (though we all know the real heroine is that wonderful spider). She saves Wilbur the piglet from certain death at the beginning of the book, and she cares for him until he’s sold to her uncle, at which point she still comes to visit him. She is tenderhearted and kind, and she’s the only human in the book who can understand animal conversation, at least for a while.

It strikes me that in this moment, we need a dose of Fern’s compassion: we are all doing our best to tend to ourselves and our people, while supporting the healthcare workers and others who are working to heal the sick. I am sure Jenny couldn’t have known what an apt heroine Fern would be for April, but I’m glad to have her face on my kitchen wall this month.

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on taking care

As I try to follow my one little word, I’m struck by the different shades of meaning it has. Originally, I struggled with choosing “comfort” as my word because it felt selfish. At least while I was being brave last year, my actions had an impact on others. But “comfort” sounded indulgent, even lazy – and I have a horror of being thought lazy.

I’m realizing, though, that comfort is a verb as well as a noun – it means providing comfort to others, of the physical and metaphorical kinds. For me, it means planning and cooking meals, doing laundry, tending our home. It means listening to friends, encouraging them, dropping a note to say hello. It means shelter, succor, contentment, welcome. It means taking care.

Here in our still-new Boston life, taking care – of myself and others – looks different sometimes than it did in Abilene. It still looks like tea and candlelight and good food; it still looks like giving hugs at church and listening to what’s going on in my husband’s and my friends’ lives. But it also looks like nurturing new friendships. It looks like finding ways to combat the cold during this, our first New England winter. It looks like phone calls and texts and Facebook messages to loved ones in Texas (and other places) who are now far away.

Taking care looks like a way of life, like lots of little efforts that add up to big things – and it also looks, quite often, like bravery. Sending the note; making the call; applying for the job; trying the new recipe or going to the networking event. When I take the risk, I usually end up taking better care, providing more comfort – a beautiful paradox I never expected.

I also hesitated to choose “comfort” because it seemed like the opposite of bravery, in some ways. I didn’t want to do an about-face this year, running away from the parts of life that must be faced bravely. But I wanted to bring some care and nurturing alongside that bravery – for others and for myself. And so far, instead of clashing, my two words are complementing each other nicely.

How do you take care – of yourself or others? I’d love to hear how you welcome care and comfort into your life or home.

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