We have recently seen record highs for daily new cases of COVID. COVID-related deaths appear as a statistic. We easily forget each statistic represents a precious life and the anguish of grief for loved ones. One such statistic was a friend with whom I shared a favorite quote by the poet Rumi, “With life as short as a half-taken breath, don’t plant anything but love.” This so-called statistic was a beautiful, big-hearted and generous man who showed up in the middle of a snowstorm unannounced and shoveled my driveway for five hours because I was recovering from back surgery.
I had cause to be a patient at St. Charles recently. The stress and sense of overwhelm in staff was palpable. The exasperation at those choosing to protest mask and vaccine mandates outside the very rooms where these health care workers are risking their own lives to save lives was evident. In the midst of this crucible that would test the resolve of any one of us, I received extraordinary compassion and care. I want to offer a heartfelt thanks to our amazing health care professionals who make healing a priority when stretched beyond capacity. I encountered heroes at St. Charles who wake up exhausted and still ask, “How can my life be used today in the service of healing?”
What if we asked the same question? The very least we can do to partner with care providers as healers and change the course of this current COVID surge is to get vaccinated, wear a mask and avoid crowds. When there is so much suffering in the world, what if we asked, “How can my life be used today in service for the healing of this broken world?” Maybe being a healer can be as simple as practicing extravagant kindness. What if we checked in on someone today we know who is struggling and simply said, “I’m with you. Is there anything I can do for you today? I’m headed to the grocery store. Can I pick you up anything? I’m in your neighborhood. Can I drop off a coffee for you?”
This week marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Most of us remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the horrific news of the first plane hitting the twin towers. I have another memory of that day. After the initial feeling of helplessness, I knew I needed to do something. I decided to donate blood. There was a line around the block of people waiting to donate blood. Giving blood to strangers to save their lives was the opposite of the hate, cruelty and ugliness that threatened to overwhelm us. In the worst of times, for a few moments, we remembered the best of us and our shared humanity.
We need to be reminded again that when the world is falling apart is when we need to pull together. We can’t fix the world. We can choose to honor the 20th anniversary of 9/11 by choosing to be to be healers in this hurting world. We can be the reason someone believes there is still good in the world. We can begin each morning asking, “What is the work of love that is mine to do today?” Henry David Thoreau said the only remedy for hearts that are broken is to love still, and to love more.