She’s recovering from surgery, facing an uncertain future. He is reeling from his daughter’s suicide. She is fearful since losing her job and having no prospects for a new one. He is a homeless veteran, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. She is single and pregnant. He is losing his father.
Today, readers, there is someone who needs your touch. It may not be one of the persons characterized in the opening paragraph, but there is someone in your path today that needs your encouragement, your practical help, your empathy, your compassion.
Henry David Thoreau wrote: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”
I believe all of us are searching for deeper meaning in our lives. I have found mine, and it is my prayer that you have found yours. If not, it is my prayer that life will throw you curves to compel you to explore the true meaning and purpose of your life.
“Hey, it’s Jane.” At that statement, I feel as if I can move on, perhaps confidently or more probably tentatively, as I adjust to yet another change or challenge in life. Jane always, always calls to let me know she is thinking of my family and me whenever anything troublesome has come our way. It doesn’t require much. She already pays the phone bill. She simply and lovingly calls. Jane is my Mother Teresa: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
We have to go deeply within ourselves to confront the reality of “lives of quiet desperation.” More often than not, that exploration begins with the onslaught of unexpected circumstances that compel us to realize that surely we are here for something more meaningful than the daily grind of life. Those circumstances have the potential to free us from unnecessary and frantic activities that keep us addicted to the “games and amusements of mankind.”
There is too much independence in our western culture. “Buckle up and move on,” we think of others when they suffer. “Don’t wallow in your misery,” we think. More cruelly, we mentally say, “Get over yourself” or “Get a grip.” How vicious we can be. This is not a time for self-congratulations that you have your life under control, which is a deceitful lie you tell yourself. People who are suffering need your heart’s touch. You can be Jane and make that phone call. You don’t have to be eloquent; you just have to be kind.
We are in danger of losing our culture’s heart, and that frightens me. It reminds me, too, of that glorious anthem that resounds, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” It takes a mature heart to understand people’s need for a caring touch. If you have that mature heart, then you already know that those people in desperate circumstances need you.
What holds you back from understanding that interdependence is far more necessary than independence? Today, there is someone who needs you. What is keeping you from being Jane? In the near future, you may be the one in need, and I hope there will be a Jane in your life who will say “you matter to me.” More likely, if you do not confront the selfishness of independence and your lack of heart, there will be no Jane. Is that a risk you are willing to take?