Sunday, September 25, 2005

Your Portrait / Click To Donate

Every man's work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.
Samuel Butler (1835-1902)

The portrait I leave behind matters to me. I hunger to echo now, then echo on even after I am gone, with positive energy and living words that inspire healing and hope. What I write here is not a fairy tale, I possess a strength of purpose born from experience. I found something inside myself that belongs to my fellowman and I place it in full view for their sake.
It drives me for a reason, this work that is as natural as breathing. My life has never been easy, but I do not hunger for ease in material form. I have spent years learning to find satisfaction inside myself, so that my happiness will never depend upon the dollar, although I would enjoy not needing to worry in that direction. But my needs are simple.
I have no price. I give without demands, knowing the value of what I do, even if I have no chart of earnings to show its worth. I cannot be bought, or sold, or owned, or broken down to nothing, because I have internal wealth. But I can be supported in what I do. Only time will tell if my portrait is vivid enough to inspire support.
I know how to give; my whole work history has been spent in tending to the helpless. I have gentle hands and eyes that see much deeper than the conditions and situations that leave people wounded. I know well the look of relief on the faces of the ones I have gazed upon with eyes that always sees the person inside.
When you read the poem below you will glimpse a reflection of what I have always been able to view. Open your eyes wider as you travel along, look deeper into the eyes you meet.
If someone you love is in a nursing home, do them a huge favor. Print this poem out, place it on the wall above their bed, next to a picture taken when they were young and laughing. Not a child's picture, but one of a happy and hale, young adult. Change it to fit a males voice if need be, I am sure the author meant it to serve a purpose. If you do that you will inspire a wider view of your loved one, and guarantee gentler care. I know this from experience too. Sad, but true. Facts are often cruel, but some solutions exist if we only embrace them. I did not write it, yet I have echoed it in every nursing home I have ever worked in.

An Old Lady's Poem

What do you see, nurses, what do you see?
What are you thinking when you're looking at me?
A crabby old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes?

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you'd try!"
Who seems not to notice the things that you do,
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe...

Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill...
Is that what you're thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse: you're not looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten...with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters, who love one another.

A young girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet.
A bride soon at heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.

At twenty-five now, I have young of my own,
Who need me to guide, and a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.

At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my husband's beside me to see I don't mourn.
At fifty once more, babies play round my knee,
Again we know children, my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead;
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
And I think of the years and the love that I've known.

I'm now an old woman...and nature is cruel;
'Tis jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,
And now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
And I'm loving and living life over again.

I think of the years...all too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, nurses, open and see,
Not a crabby old woman; look closer...see ME!!

Below is a daily dig I recieve in my endless search for subject matter and quotes that will be a perfect fit for this quiet place. Humble love is a mighty healing thing.

Humble Love
Jean Vanier

My heart is transformed by the smile of trust given by some people who are terribly fragile and weak. They call forth new energies from me. They seem to break down barriers and bring me a new freedom.
It is the same with the smile of a child: even the hardest heart can't resist. Contact with people who are weak and who are crying one of the most important nourishments in our lives. When we let ourselves be really touched by the gift of their presence, they leave something precious in our hearts.