Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Thoughts on Suffering

I met with Mr. Rasta again yesterday, and things are getting worse for this poor man. He is very frustrated because his tumor is growing much bigger and the doctors here have said they cannot surgically intervene because of bleeding risks. As his tumor grows, he is becoming more isolated in his community. "People are afraid." Tears flow as he tells me about sitting alone in his poverty, hoping that a solution will appear.

I listen to him and try to communicate the acceptance and caring he needs as much as he needs food and medical attention. I give him a few things and agree to meet him next week at the Life Goes On house. Not much help. I feel pretty lame.

The Life Goes On house is a little haven for people living with HIV and their caregivers who may be shunned in their own communities. It is a place of support and acceptance where both body and spirit are nourished. I can only imagine what it must feel like to have this welcoming spot full of caring people when isolation and fear are ever present.

Of course funding is always an issue for Life Goes On. The bus needs fuel and insurance. The house always needs food to share with the community. Sometimes the needs here on Dominica seem like a bottomless hole where my little help is mostly futile. Just a drop in the bucket.

But, of course, if my drop is added to your drop and all the other drops, soon the bucket begins to fill.

Looking into the face of suffering is so difficult. It is easier to turn away, of course. We all have plenty of personal suffering (and it is much easier to focus on my own pain, rather than embrace the suffering of someone like Mr. Rasta). Helping can be like walking the razor's edge between the care of the self and care of others. At one time, during my hospice years, I allowed the suffering of others to swallow me whole. I am older now, and less likely to completely throw myself on that razor. But nontheless, living in a world of suffering does call to me to do something when I can. No matter how inadequate and lame it may be.

livingdominica: maybe it is time to read Ram Dass's How Can I Help again...


Eric J. said...

Good thoughts to Mr. Rasta, Eric.

Anonymous said...

so sad.
I hope Mr. Rasta can find some love among those working at The Life Goes On house.
People shouldn't have to suffer like that and be neglected like that.