As we approach that time of year when every culture marks the coming of light into a world of darkness, when faith is renewed after the slaughter of innocence or the near extinction of the eternal flame, when nature reminds us of the wonder of birth and rebirth, I am reminded of how much good can be found in the simplest kindnesses and the unexpected grace present in places of brokenness, wrack, and need.
I was contemplating the gentle and respectful care that each of my aides has provided me, helping me to dress, bathe, etc. They are paid so little, as is so often the closer one works with people. Washing the feet of the poor by the mighty is seen as a symbol of spiritual humility. Why do we not so honor the same performed by ordinary folk upon another?
My friend Francois said to me today that when he first came from Haiti he worked in the morgue of a hospital in New York. His job was to match the bodies to the death certificates. He said it changed him totally, transformed him. The odor opening the body bag, whether the deceased was black, white, Asian, Christian, Muslim, whatever, was the same. So to Francois, we are all the same and prejudice seems to him so ignorant. Before he lifts me, he says we are brothers.
It is a pleasure and a privilege to receive care from Francois, Winnie, Deb, and other, at those moments, my angels.
” …the truth is never far away but up close in the dirt, in the vile details of slime & scale & filth along with the Devil, along with the angels; all snared within the earth & us, all embodied in a single pulse of a heart—…” Richard Flanagan, Gould’s Book of Fishes