Being Human is Not a Solo Sport
Maybe it was my birthday turning the calendar toward another year of life.
Perhaps it was my father-in-law’s (and thus our family’s) journey through COVID.
Likely it was the backdrop of work I’ve been doing to help the helpers through the pandemic, mass disasters, and other situations that are leaving a whole lot of people struggling against great adversity.
Whatever the reason, it was a tenderhearted week.
My kids surprised me by traveling home for an early birthday celebration and their arrival landed on my father-in-law’s birthday. We gathered outside the nursing home window where he was being treated for COVID. Serenading him through a pane of glass, I wondered if we would ever hug him again. Tears of frustration.
Our family holed up in a cabin for a weekend of love, laughter, delight over our new puppy, and too much food. Birthday messages started arriving from other family and friends. Some sweet. Some hilarious. All caring. Laughing until you cry? Perhaps the best kind of tears. Tears of joy.
In the quiet of the post-kids visit, I awoke to birthday flowers and a handwritten card from my husband. He is not a writer and jokes that I can write a book in the time it takes him to write a card. All the more special how his words affirmed that he truly sees me as I am… and is grateful to be by my side as we become more of who we want to be. Tears of love.
A mid-day knock on the door delivered a stunning bouquet from a friend. Not just any friend, but one who has been going through a lot in her own life. She is a worldmaker – known for her wholehearted helping of others. Yet, I was deeply struck by her thoughtfulness and generosity as she rose above her own troubles to celebrate with me. Tears of gratitude.
The following day, I was surprised by an inspiration to attend Ash Wednesday services. Off I went to a church that made me feel safe with its pandemic precautions. It happened at the “Sign of Peace”. Traditionally a nice exchange of handshakes with others standing nearby, I watched as mask wearing people showered their love across and around the church, bringing it to life through their eyes, peace signs, waves… and palpable longing to be together. I caught snippets: “Peace be with you. We will get through this. You might be standing alone, but we’re in this together. I look forward to that hug! Peace and love. Love and peace.” Tears of humanity.
Tears mark the moments that clarify and strengthen our shared humanity. To walk out the hard times and good times together. To feel seen, accepted and celebrated. To be reminded that helpers are nearby. To share our burdens in ways that keep hope alive for a better day.
Life is not a solo sport. To the extent you have forgotten this in either giving or asking for help, how can you get back in the game?
Recently paging through Matthew McConaughey’s “Greenlights” book that my son requested for Christmas, one of his musings titled “What Do I Believe?” caught my eye:
*I believe we should spend more time working on a formula to save the world rather than in a classroom solving a math problem… *I still believe in love and a righteous way.
*The world is like a neighborhood; the backyards are just bigger. We’re all neighbors.
May your own tears – those life-affirming waters of shared humanity, kindness, gratitude, love and joy – bring you closer to family, friends and neighbors alike (hint: we’re all neighbors).