Carole said her name was Janeen. She was a single professional with Church ties, and always cheerful to people in the condo building - in contrast to most who look down at their shoes or their mail while passing each other. When she heard Carole's parents were ailing, Janeen volunteered to accompany her on the long journey to Michigan. It wasn't to be, but Carole was grateful. She noted that Janeen tried to help others as well.
So when Janeen jumped out of her ninth story window and killed herself yesterday, even those who nodded to her and mostly looked at their shoes were shocked.
Who knew that extending kindness to others could itself be a call for kindness?
Janeen had barricaded the door so when the police arrived, they couldn't get in. They found a way to talk with her anyway, and literally tried to talk her off the ledge where she was still hanging and alive. Apparently, she slipped and fell to her death,
How many of us slip away toward death - even within ourselves - in the midst of intelligent and seemingly friendly neighbors and friends? When things go embarrassingly south for you, to whom do you turn? Can you think of anyone? Professionalism and accomplishment sometimes distance us from the possibility of intimacy, because they are all about how it looks and who is better and how to be strong. There is little room for vulnerability - a necessary ingredient for relationship.
I have a colleague and friend named Randi Fiat, who, in the midst of a successful career, has the gift of care giving in a world where care giving is a lost art. By insisting on taking time to ask me how I'm feeling, what I'm thinking, and what I believe about what I'm doing - as well as encouraging me through my self-disappointment - she enhances my quality of life and keeps this earth journey worth pursuing.
Without a Sacred Witness to hold space for us to find out who we are, it is easy to become detached from life itself.
So now, in the midst of checking off my list of an impossible number of daily to-do's, I am only just learning to stop and ask myself how I'm feeling. I'm often surprised by my own answers! That reminds me that life is about who we are underneath our actions.
Don't let yourself or those you know slip away. Ask what they are up to; how they feel; what its like to be them at this moment...be the glue to the quality of your life and others.