The first time I remember being overwhelmed with compassion through witnessing another person’s suffering was while watching my grandfather being physically transferred from his bed to a chair. He was elderly and frail and had rapidly gone from being a jovial and content figure in my life to one of helplessness. My entire body ached as I watched him. I was left feeling helpless. The second time was while volunteering in a hospital and contemplating a career in physical therapy. I worked alongside my cousin, a wonderful therapist who probably had more to do with my decision to pursue physical therapy than she knows. We transported a patient down to the therapy room for exercise. This gentleman was also frail and elderly, and after working with every ounce of energy he had, he looked at us both with complete gratefulness. In the middle of all his challenges, this man showed me a heart that grows through suffering. He demonstrated something to me that I have never forgotten. No matter what kind or depth of suffering you may find yourself in, there is still beauty in living. There are deep reservoirs of life and love inside us all, and we have an indescribable way of awakening them in one another.
I went on to become a physical therapist, and my patients became the greatest teachers I have known. I walked into literally hundreds of unique settings as a home health therapist, all with a different structure of family support, socioeconomic status, and types of challenges in their physical bodies. Even though the diagnosis I was sent to address may have been limited to a “hip” or “knee” or “stroke”, what I found in every instance was a person with a set of circumstances, a lifetime of patterns and choices, and a family dynamic of some sort; all of which played a vital part in how that person’s suffering was experienced in them and shared to others. Each one sooner or later opened my eyes to see life through a different perspective. What I really came to understand was that when you come face to face with someone who is suffering, they are no longer a stranger. Their suffering, in a way, becomes your own. Compassion does that to us. It touches us deep down and brings us into the same place as the one suffering. It teaches us that we do not live in isolation from one another, and that we were never meant to. Only in engaging with others and sharing our own selves will we grow into who we all actually are: Family.
It is from this place of learning from and loving people in the middle of their own particular suffering, that I support and serve the community program “Caregivers Day Out”. Since its opening in September of this year, Cindy Thomas as the director of the program, has brought life to what has been only an idea for more than two years. “CDO” aims to serve both the caregiver and the loved one in need. Both sides have their own unique sufferings, and this program seeks to come alongside and support them both. This is literally a “family vision”. There is a lot of beauty happening at that little program, as volunteers interact with participants and caregivers receive the gift of time. Everyone is being blessed as hearts meet hearts!! But there is more to do. I know that there are so many more in our community that would benefit from “CDO”. You do not have to suffer alone or in isolation!! We are meant to live and walk together in community. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help! There is no need to put an expectation on yourself that you should be able to handle everything on your own. Family works best when we are honest and helping one another. And remember, the participants of “CDO” are offering as much transformation and aid in growing up of family hearts as any of the volunteers and director are!!
On November 10, Arts & Wellness of Edenton will be hosting a benefit yoga class in their studio at 321-C S. Broad St. From 11 AM – 12 PM we will offer a gentle and relaxing yoga class, appropriate for all levels including beginners. A minimum of $40 donation to “CDO” is suggested for participation in this event. Also, the entire week of November 5 we will be accepting donations at the studio. If you are unable to attend the event on November 10, please consider contributing during the week!! All donations can be made out directly to “Caregivers Day Out”. Looking forward to partnering with you in support and awareness of Caregivers Day Out.
For more specific information, family interviews, and trial days at the CDO program please contact Cindy Thomas @ 252.506.1020 Cinsty5156@gmail.com
Co-Owner of Arts & Wellness of Edenton