Imagine having way-stations in place where even the hardiest of us could walk in off the street to find tenderness, to gather strength, (perhaps to gain a bit of what’s been missing all our lives or a taste of what we long for we once had) and then be glad to pass the kind attentions on.

I’ll cradle you. Please cradle me.

Charles Johnston in his commentary and translation of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali speaks of the importance of “giving kindly sympathy to the happy, thus doubling their joy” and “showing compassion for the sad, thus halving their sorrow.”

Love is our essence. It is seamless, like a circle-saving, like an answered prayer-and a force we can learn to direct. How true the line from the movie Angie: “Everyone’s got something broken. The less broken got to take care of the more broken.”

Ideally, we could care so abundantly that if we had a hundred friends or a hundred pets, each one would feel nourished. We would extend ouselves, not because others told us to, but from the inside out.

A social worker I know was assigned to the family of a middle-aged woman who was dying. Almost in a hush, my friend spoke to me of the love that poured onto this woman from her husband and children. I could envision how the effect of witnessing this caregiving must be spilling onto his own, already cherished, family. It occurred to me that, now, having listened to my friend tell this caregiving story, similar blessings would be spilling onto my family (and to others as well), like the waterfall near my cabin spills endlessly into the creek below, then on and on into the endless ocean, reaching who-knows-how-many shores.

Think of a time when someone cared for you well in ways you could feel. It is likely you knew something priceless was happening, no matter how long the loving lasted.

My daughter’s postman, Howard, delivered radiance along his route as surely as he delivered packages and mail. Just as a crumb contains all the properties of the cake, so Howard’s smile contained all the properties of love.

Year after year, polished by every person and circumstance that came his way, my husband worked in the same few square feet of space, making bread and pastries and soup, arranging the life of the concert café we had birthed together. Keeping the café open long hours every day, every season, so that people on our peninsula would have “a warm lighted place” to come to, he nourished an entire town simply by being there.

“It is not how much we do, but how much we put into doing it,” said Mother Theresa. “It is not how much be give, but how much love we put into giving.”

Watching the documentary, Mother Theresa, which features this legendary woman’s life and work, we see Mother Theresa in her hospital for the dying in India. She moves from bed to bed, barely touching each person. “Yet she is completely present – a golden sun passing over the dying as she approaches, a sun whose light is bright enough to make the dying, suns – for a moment, as well.”

Maggie Davis


  • Maggie Davis is an author, publisher and volunteer community caregiver living in East Blue Hill, Maine. In 1993, after being published in New York and elsewhere for nearly two decades, she created Heartsong Books to move her books into the world in person-to-person ways that reflected the all-embracing vision expressed on their pages.

    Maggie Steincrohn Davis is co-founder of Neighborcare-a joyful band of volunteers offering free-of-charge, health-related assistance in thirteen towns and beyond since 1995. Read The Neighborcare Story here at the Empowering Caregivers Site.