Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Work of Caring ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Work of Caring ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Article excerpt

Some of the most challenging moments in my life, and some of the most cherished, have involved caring for others.

I say challenging because, like most people's, my days are already very full. Dropping everything to nurse someone back to health isn't usually convenient.

What I have cherished, though, was knowing that my love for them was felt, and that it made a difference.

The activity of caring has deeply spiritual roots. It reflects an ethical imperative to respond to one in need - giving another the same dignity and aid we would hope to be given if facing a similar challenge.

But there is something deeper at work, and in the midst of the challenges, it can be really important to reflect deeply on what it is that has brought us to this place of caring for another.

The Bible counsels us often, and in many ways, to give or to serve not out of a sense of obligation, but willingly and with joy. "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver" (II Cor. 9:7).

This generosity of spirit is a hallmark of Christianity. Jesus said that his followers would be identified, not by the magnificence of their church structures, not by their numbers, not by the purity of their doctrine, but by their love. He said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).

When the sheer hard work of caring for another tries to crush out inspiration, it's helpful to remember that this care for others is the essence of following Christ.

The work of caring and nursing is often undervalued by the world. But the world needs love and care probably more than anything else.

I've spent most of my adult life caring for my family, and nursing professionally. The moments I've felt most poised and fulfilled have had certain elements in common:

* What people most need of me is seldom the thing they think they need. People think that what they most need is to be more comfortable, to have something to eat, to be given a bath, or to be taken for a walk. While these things are important, there's a deeper need that's not to be overlooked: the need for genuine respect and concern. …

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