'IT IS both a profound and a painful knowledge that people heal and people destroy. We help :one another, summoning to be and to live and grow, influencing each other as the sun and frost "influence" green fields. We have the option of giving and receiving powerful invitations: Life as celebration, living fully, growing Life as pointless and hopeless, something to give up.
In this sense, we are our brothers' keepers. And, we need to be kindlers of life, inspiriting each other to live, to hope and to dream.
. The invitation to live is the .invitation to grow, to be oneself, to enjoy and to risk (at least one positive risk a day!). Our times are difficult, true, but they are also open-ended, stimulating, full of possibility. The people who invite us to hope and to live 'don't just sit around at home and lament. They go out and make it 'a good day!
And we live when we are true to ourselves, authentic in our feelings, responsive to our convictions. We live when we love, when we are involved in the . lives of others, when we are committed and concerned. We live when we build and create, hope and suffer (even) and rejoice.
We live in troubling times. Yet, Critical moments, crises are wonderful opportunities for • 'change and growth.
• And who of us has the capacity to suffer with and through the suffering of a loved
• one, a friend, or one who is vulnerable. What becomes rather apparent is that confronted by suffering, we ourselves become more vulnerable in the same areas. Our ability to care is in direct proportion to our own vulnerability. And this brings us full circle to the concept of caring 'in which elements or dimensions 'of caring (from the Gothic kara Meaning to carry a burden with, to suffer with, to grieve and mourn with) may serve as approaches to meet the challenge of the person -experiencing life and its 'mysteries.
It is important, I believe, to consider the quality of mystery that always surrounds the problems of illness, pain and suffering. Though the response to problems is to seek solutions, the proper response to mystery is a life/love response and through this realisation we come to the insight and appreciation of the profound mystery of suffering.
People are not problems to be solved, but mysteries to be explored, lovingly, reverently rand with great care. And here we .reach the point where in the healing ministry to others, ispirituality touches, mingles and !merges. It is compassion, and ;compassion is the fruit of solitude and is the base of healing 'and helping. But compassion is hard, difficult, because it requires the inner disposition to go with 'others to the place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely and broken.
But to be this kind of person, perhaps our first and foremost /task is faithfully to care for our 'inward fire, so that when it is +really needed, it can offer warmth and light and hope to lost and !weary travellers. What can you and I do and be? Perhaps the most important is to 'make clear our own attachment lto life. For, we give life only when lwe have it.
; If at any moment someone Isvere to turn the question to you: tell me your hopes and your dreams. How would you answer? Are you a firmly founded believer An life, aware of its meaning and ;aware that you have yourself ;received and responded to invitations to live? Perhaps the .essence of preparation to be :ellicitors of life is always to be .ready to give an account of our :personal hope.
For me, the hope lies not in just I the fond belief, but in the actual, repeated experience that love !makes a difference. Whence will 'the love come?
;Professor Penny Prophit ;BSN MSN DNSc PhD The author is a Franciscan Nun 'and Head of Department of Nursing Studies at the 'University of Edinburgh and a Governor of the Linacre Centre in London. The Linacre Centre is !cr registered charity dependent on voluntary donations and grants. Donations will be ,gratefully received by Hon Treasurer John Soya, 9 Knoll Rise, Orpington, Kent 8R6 OEJ.