Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Compassion

 

I want to write about the waning crescent moon because that is what I usually do. We missed the beauty of the full moon in northern Indiana because of cloud cover and rain, but a few nights ago, that moon shone bright in the middle of the night. There will be another full moon next month, so we must just be patient.

Yes, I want to write about all of that including poetry, but it just doesn’t seem right to focus that when we have a community and families grieving over the Fremont fire this weekend. I knew Rebecca, but only in the slightest of ways. We became Facebook pals (after we met) at the birth of her first child. Every once in a while, I would send a note of encouragement. I absolutely knew what it was like to have three little ones under five. Even though that was the extent of our remote friendship, I grieve her death along with her children.

I know that all of us in this small community, tucked into the rolling hills of northern Indiana, share the grief over this story. It doesn’t even make any difference whether we knew them or not. Grief is grief. Sadness is sadness. Compassion is compassion. How do we cope and what, if anything, do we learn from this? I have said this so many times over the past years in my column that, even though I try and I am aware, I fail at this. I get wrapped up in my own world, and go about my life.

So, let’s talk. On Friday night I went to The Brokaw Movie House (buy local!) to see the new film, A Man Called Otto. I did read the book, A Man Called Ove, a few years ago and I loved the book. But let me tell you, I loved the film. Of course, I am a Tom Hanks fan, and he does everything with perfection. If you have not seen the film, or read the book, I certainly am not going to give anything away. It is about a neighborhood, a very small neighborhood coming together to take care of one another and how it did, indeed, change the “grumpy old man.” Don’t let the reviews scare you away. Now, more than ever is the time to see this film. Take your hankies with you as you will cry and laugh throughout the entire film. By the way, there is a northeastern Indiana connection to the movie so stay for the credits!!

There is an old folk tale that goes like this: “Once upon a time there was a poor farmer. Every day he would sit at his kitchen table and look out at his land. His wife watched him day after day until one day she said that he should go out and take a walk around his land. So, he did. He did this every day. One day he saw a small flower blooming. He ran home to tell his wife. Each day he watered and cared for the one small flower. While he was doing that, he noticed a nice patch of green grass. With a little care he thought, maybe something else would grow there and so he planted a small garden. It did grow. He continued this until one day his farm was flourishing. A miracle, he thought? Oh, not really. He just finally took the time to notice the small things and how he could make them better.”

I tell you this story because it doesn’t take too much. A nod. A smile. I have a neighbor, Nate Simons, who walks our block early in the morning. When it snows, he walks with his shovel and shovels all of our walks. What about the Blessing Boxes? We need to keep them filled. They are all over town, and it takes just a few extra items on our own grocery lists to add to the larder of these boxes. My personal favorite one is over at the Episcopal Church on Darling Street, but you can find them anywhere.

Small things make a difference to everyone. During this week of grief for our neighbors in Fremont, let’s all make a personal plan to add that kindness to our friends and neighbors. Simply take a stroll and see what needs to be done.

In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”

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