One of Jane’s many gifts was the ability to really listen to others. She went far beyond cursory greetings and polite nods of the head; instead Jane paid attention and asked meaningful questions. She also remembered that your second cousin had been ill, or your older cat was having a hard time adjusting to the new kitten.
Now that families and friends update one another through texts, quick emails and the increasingly rare phone call, the need to be listened to, the desire to be really heard is greater than ever. And it’s not just folks comfortable with technology who are exchanging information, but not connecting. There are many people of all ages and socioeconomic areas who simply don’t ‘do’ technology. Those neighbors and relatives and coworkers want to be heard, too.
The next time a stranger starts talking to you about their 17 year old cat, or how amazing hair styles are, or what they think of the flavor ice cream you are buying – just stop everything and listen. Listen to their story not as a busy, important, tired, hungry, disinterested stranger. Listen as if this were your loved one, as if it might be you in a few years, or as if it has been you when you were lonely or excited or just talkative. Listen as if this human being is worthy of being listened to.
Some of the most beautiful stories come from people we don’t even know – or those whom we think we know, but rarely hear. These glimpses into the hearts of another person can touch our lives in ways we would not have imagined and their faces, voices, and personal experiences can remain a part of us forever – if we simply take a little time to listen.
Please share some of the wonderful stories you have heard from someone in a ticket line, or when searching for an ingredient on the store shelf, or while walking dogs at a park. And please feel free to share the ways in which you have reached out to another human being through the simple but profound act of listening.
… make a casserole.
That might sound frivolous, especially in light of the magnitude of many family challenges and problems that take place every day, but the simple act of caring for someone with a hug and a hot meal can make a real difference.
If cooking isn’t your thing, or if you live hundreds of miles away, or if you really cannot spare even one more minute no matter how your heart goes out to someone facing a crisis, consider the following options:
- Make arrangements for a local contact to pick up a meal that you have pre-ordered and paid for from a restaurant the family likes.
- Mail gift cards (for a local grocery store, fast food restaurant, or coffee shop) directly to the person or family going through a difficult time.
- Ask mutual friends living in the area to bake something and be willing to pitch in for the cost of the ingredients and their time in the kitchen.
- Ship a box filled with canned soup, a box of crackers and a package of cookies along with a cheerful card – and maybe a pretty bowl or a silly spoon.
- Purchase a subscription for a meal delivery service – or fresh fruit, tea, desserts, coffees, etc. – for someone facing a long recovery or a family dealing with financial challenges due to an illness or catastrophe.
If, however, you are handy with a whisk and potato ricer, you might prefer to cook up a favorite recipe or two that folks can use right away or freeze for a later meal. Below are links to some of our favorite comfort foods:
Please add your own recipes, links, and suggestions for foods that can be easily shared with anyone who is struggling – near or far.
It’s been a little while since we last posted on this site, but not due to complete inactivity on our parts. We’ve been catching up with the busy-ness of life; the care and feeding of family, friends, careers – but then, you already know all about such things. We’re just glad to be back; grateful for the opportunity to share some pleasant news and helpful information with one another.
One of Jane’s many gifts was a softness that she shared with all living things. Her ability to soothe and heal a variety of animals was a beautiful thing to see. She once explained that she did nothing more than provide a safe place for rest, a little food and water – and time. That may be true, but there was a peace within her that baby bunnies and small birds trusted, allowing themselves to be gently picked up after being wounded by a cat or falling from a nest.
In following Jane’s example of caring for these vulnerable creatures of the woods and fields, lakes and sky, we have shared some of the ways in which you, too can learn about and help animals in need of, as Jane used to say, “a soft place to land”.
- Baby Birds (Nestlings)
- Golden Retriever Rescue
- Baby Bunnies
- Sea Turtles
- Animal Rescue
Please add your suggestions for reputable sources for animal rescue and education in the comments section. Thank you.