“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” Maya Angelou
One of the reasons’ why man needs his social surroundings be it family, friends or community is largely based on his ability to love and be loved. Here the aspect of love doesn’t focus solely on the relationship between two people, but between a network of people whose happiness are directly or indirectly influenced and dependent on the other. For “love” encompasses kindness, understanding, mutual respect, forgiveness and empathy.
“Love is a friendship set to music.” Joseph Campbell
One never realizes the intricate role that he or she may play in the life of the other. While it may seem trivial or a passing touch for one, it drastically change the life for the other. Learning to be gracious and kind is one of the facets of love. Love isn’t simply declared by showering of gifts, spending time with only those one knows or granting favours sometimes beyond one’s reach. Love also includes just being there and listening.
“The art of love is largely the art of persistence.” Albert Ellis
While doing the preparatory lessons on the aspect of biblical love, I had read an encounter based on events in the hospital room of a retired service man. What struck my mind on reading “Love Stays” was the fact that “human love” for the fellow being goes beyond boundaries, imagination and guidelines set by man. Even though for one it may be trivial and require very little effort and time on their part, for the other it would be a life changing moment. Choosing to spend our time with love, kindness and empathy would go a long way, especially when one knows that life has a boomerang effect, when we least expect it.
“And now these three abide: faith, hope, love; but love is more of them.”
(1 Corinthians 13:13)
A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside. “Your son is here,” she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words several times before the patient’s eyes opened. Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man’s limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement. The nurse brought a chair so that the marine could sit beside the bed. All through the night, the young marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man’s hand and offering him words of love and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile. He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital – the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients.
Now and then, she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night. Along towards dawn, the old man died. The marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited. Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her. “Who was that man?” he asked. The nurse was startled, “He was your father,” she answered. “No, he wasn’t,” the marine replied. “I never saw him before in my life.”
“Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?”
“I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn’t here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed.”
The next time someone needs you … just be there. Stay.
Note: This is not a true story, but an incredible work of fiction written by Roy Popkin in 1964. It was published under the title “Night Watch” in the September 1965 edition of Reader’s Digest. Due to its highly emotional pull, the story has been re-circulated online since the 1990s under a variety of titles such as “Just Stay” and “He Needed a Son.”
“Everyone has a purpose in life and a unique talent to give to others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.” Kallam Anji Reddy