I am reminded daily that I am a very fortunate man.
Today’s reminders came in many different forms.
Having the stamina to bike from Evanston to work and back and being able to see the visual splendor of Lake Michigan as I turned the corner onto Loyola’s campus.
Meeting and sharing a meal with Will Du, a young Chinese man whose hunger to suck the marrow out of his two-month internship here is palpable, and whose head is literally brimming with ideas of how to help his country.
Feeling joy and a sense of accomplishment of being able to speak Spanish more easily and fluidly than I did just three months ago, when I started at Hoy.
The wonder of technology that allowed me to talk with Bruce Shapiro, the head of the Dart Center, in Adelaide, while our executive director called in from Wyoming.
And the satisfaction of having worked hard with Jon on his latest grant application and of knowing that together we’ve helped get him closer to his goal of landing the latest in what is becoming a string of enormously prestigious fellowships.
This is to say nothing of the gifts of connection with family, of morning chats with Mom and Dad, email from Mike in Tokyo, check ins and talks with Dunreith in Western Massachusetts, and an evening call with my mother-in-law Helen.
I wrote yesterday about the small gifts of compassion I’ve received from a worker at Whole Foods and two colleagues at Hoy.
Today I received three comments, each of which on their own were another reminder of my great and good fortune at being alive.
I am sharing them with you.
Here’s what Mom had to say:
Jeff- When I heard about Helen’s seizure, I called Sister Betty Watson.to pray for Helen. Betty and her husband, Rev. Thomas created a Baptist church in Boston more than 25 years ago. Betty will have the whole church pray for her. The more people praying create an experience for the person of invisible hands caressing them.
When I had my accident, I had invisible hands. I had no idea what this way or how to speak about it. A few years later, when my non-profit VALT was created, a Protestant minister joined our support group. The first thing he spoke about were the invisible hands. He was one of the translators of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Not only all the churches in his denomination were praying for him, but many people of other faiths.
Once I heard my Rabbi speak to his congregation about whether prayer works. Prayer always works. If you pray for someone, they will feel it. All prayers are answered. Prayers never go away. Always they linger in the universe, letting the world know what your intention is.
All of us need others to connect with us and show us compassion. Then we know we are not alone. The more those who aren’t in our inner circles recognize our needs, the more we feel seen. 25 years ago right after the accident, a man came to drive away a car I had donated. His face was filled with compassion as he watched how I walked and saw me.
The more power people have in the world, it appears, the less compassion they show. All of us who are suffering feel how others feel. It’s only those with too much who imagine they aren’t suffering.
Love is the greatest healer,
Here’s Jack Crane’s latest gem:
32 years ago I loaded up the moving truck, said my goodbyes to the Boston Irish clan and headed west, landing in our Evanston Jeff. Four years later I was praying daily for a miraculous intervention for my Mom who had liver cancer at age 50. Mom had a deep, quiet faith and was only worried about my youngest siblings, ages 9, 12 and 13. She cheered on my sibs at swimming events right to the bitter end, bald, gaunt, yet maintaining a warm smile that will forever give me hope. My heart was ripped apart not being able to be home with her in this tragic time. Fortunately, I was able to be at her bedside when she died that summer.
I think that my prayer time, more than anything else, helped me to face into my own journey, what was real and what was sheer illusion. To this day, I turn to meditative prayer to quiet my restless spirit, to re-collect what is the essence of my life. Yes, Mom gave me life, and then gave me a more enlightened life through her death.
I wish I could say the pull toward home gets less as we grow older, but that is not true in my case. I am more drawn to my birth place now more than ever. Perhaps there is some familial call to gather as my eight siblings (seven of whom live in Boston) and I grow ever closer to our own end, death as we know it.
You have an extraordinary family Jeff. So, so much to be thankful for, eh?
Peace to you, Dunreith and Aidan.
And here are kind and generous words from dear friend and Dunreith’s colleague Sandra Hollingsworth:
I’m always thinking about my dear family (that means ya’ll) lately when it comes to Helen. I ask that the Lord keeps each of you under his might wings. I ask for Him to give you strength. I miss Dunreith. Give her hugs & kisses from the “pookies”, Ja’Net, & I. And by the way, Giovonni & Jentel are now 7th & 4th graders. YEAH!!!!
Thank you, Mom, Jack and Sandra.
And thanks to all of you for participating in the community we have built during the past two-and-a-half years.