Are You the Balm?
In her walk and her talk, my mother embodies the Sacred and was one of my greatest examples of what it means to be a healing force in the world. I am grateful and honor the important role she has played in my life and the life of so many others directly and indirectly through the lives that I touch.
Excerpt from Chapter 10 of my book Sacred Intelligence: The Essence of Sacred, Selfish and Shared Relationships
First, I go to my mother, who is approaching 90 years old, and my father, who was 86 when he died. My parents taught my nine siblings and me that we each had a purpose in life. My parents may not have known how the Sacred would ultimately use us or what our purposes in life might ultimately be, but they did know that we were to be in sacred relationships with one another. They instilled in us a compassion for others, a strong sense that it was important to help others whether it be through the words of a song, sitting and talking with someone, taking the needy some food, visiting the sick, or whatever we might do to lift others up. My parents knew the importance of demonstrating the Sacred’s love in action.
As children, we did not always understand our parents’ actions. We often wondered why they had to help those in need, even when others did not always show their appreciation. I recall a story from my childhood that illustrates my parents’ application of their balm. A family moved in to the neighborhood who had very, very limited resources and limited education. The mental capacity of the parents was also limited.
My mother (pictured here) constantly gave the family whatever food supplies they came to borrow. One day, my nephew went to play with the two- to three-year-old grandchild of the family. I do not know what happened but the next thing we knew, the grandmother came to the door and asked to use our phone. We said, “Sure.” She proceeded to call the sheriff to report that a little boy was playing with her grandson and had hit him. She wanted the sheriff to come and arrest him. She stood in OUR house, used OUR phone, and called the sheriff on OUR nephew. Unfortunately for her but fortunately for us, she was unable to tell the sheriff where she lived. What do you think happened the next time she came to borrow something? My mother gave it to her. My mother understood that she was the manifestation of the balm. She could not hold on to a past slight or hurt. She was also aware that this woman’s response was based on her limited problem-solving skills, and she knew no other way to handle the situation. My mother did not fault her for that but rather sought to live her life demonstrating love rather than disdain.
My parents ensured that we understood that we also were the balms. When the wife of an elderly couple had a stroke, my parents asked me if I would go stay with the couple for a while. I must tell you, I was in tenth grade, very much into my friends and myself, and I did not even care for the wife all that much. Taking care of her was the farthest thing from my mind. But when my mother asked me if I would go, my answer to her was yes. Truth be told, I did not think I had much of a choice because my parents raised us to be concerned for others. We were taught that in serving others, we served the Sacred.
I did not know it then, but I was the balm that was needed in that situation to help make the wounded whole. Later in life, while balancing children, family, and divinity school, I had to take care of my husband when he broke both of his legs. I learned that taking care of someone who is ill or disabled can be daunting. Who knows how my efforts served as a healing balm to this woman and her husband? Maybe, in some small way, my actions helped her husband handle some of his bigger decisions during that difficult time or even the smaller minute-to-minute tasks that come with caring for those who cannot care for themselves.
My purpose then and now is to be the balm that is needed to help heal others. What about you? Are you the balm for someone?