Dear ones –
So here I am in my bed, thinking of all the things that people have done for me —
Doctors have been paid to get me the referrals, medicines, therapies, and consultations I need.
Friends have made donations so that we can order food.
Another friend brought a casserole. (I think Jack Mandeville is leaning into his South Carolina roots, what do you think?)
My mom (hi, Joyce Buck!) has come to help Julie and me with cooking, cleaning, and all the things that will ease Julie’s burden a bit. And Morgan came a while ago and will be here again.
The Council of Third Degree Initiates of Stone Circle Wicca (USA) made a ceremony for me, honoring the work, musical and otherwise, that I have done with them over the years, as well as offering healing and strength from the four Elements.
(In that same ceremony, our comrade Jonathan White was also standing at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, a place from which he had watched the blood-red moon rise the night before. As he said, “The Daughter giving birth to the Mother.”
I have written here about how empowering it is to be asked to help. People like it. They like, in their strength and abundance, to be able to show love in substantive, concrete ways. I know I do. I enjoy loving on others. Buying Julie a dress that fits and is one of her good shades of green has made me happy for days and days. I am so proud. I know I did something that helped her, made her happy, and let her know I was paying attention and had her in mind.
Furthermore, and what THIS missive is about is that, even when asking for help is hard, even when the ask seems too big, I am finding that it is generally worth it. The hardest one of these asks has been speaking to my friends in Stone Circle Wicca. We have another dear friend and Initiate who is in dire health straits — more dire than mine — and I am very aware of that.
But I was and remain so aware of how important connection is. I was and remained so aware of how much I needed it and how little I was getting it. I felt alone in my pain and in my healing, and I knew where I needed to turn.I knew what I wanted, what I hoped for, and what was out there. So Julie, bless her, pushed me to ask for what I wanted. Though I desperately feared a no — that indication that now is not the right time — I knew in my heart that if I heard a no, it would be an invitation to practice.
But I did not get a no. I got welcoming inquiries about what I needed and that it was okay to have asked. In Stone Circle Wicca, our ceremonies respond to a range of human needs. Sometimes those needs are to celebrate the turning solar year, to over devotion under the full moon or in the dark of the new moon. Sometimes the need is driven by faerie whim — the sense that we need to lighten our spirits and bring levity to a situation.
But my set of needs was different. My set of needs was very clear. I needed to feel blessed, held, loved by those I love. And I longed for their prayers for healing.
And they did it, friends, they did it.
There’s a little aphorism that Julie and I often quote: “Some kind of help’s the kind of help that helping’s all about. And some kind of help’s the kind of help we all could do without.” You know that second kind, I’m sure. When someone butts in and decides what you need without asking. Ugh. I hate it. It makes me vaguely anxious, just typing about it. I’ve experienced it recently, and it’s just not fun. And I know that I need to be careful about being pushy in that way, myself. It’s true that nurturing is in my character, but nurturing is not always the way to go.
So I am so grateful to my friends and co-religionists for their inquiry. For that gentle asking about what I really needed and wanted — so they could give it to me if it was in their power.
And, as I’ve said above, they did.
So this is the blinding flash of the obvious, friends: Not only is helping good for the ones who are doing it, but — hello?! — it CAN work out for the one who dares to ask. Yes, it’s lovely to have folks volunteer out of the kindness of their hearts, or even because they’re getting paid. That can be really lovely, both of those, each in their own way.
But dare to ask, beloveds. Consider what you need, and dare to ask. Because asking to have our needs fulfilled by means we think are possible, even if improbable, can lead to beautiful gifts, and a lovely exchange for all.
I don’t look self-sufficient at all, I don’t think. But still, it was hard to ask for that ceremony. We often are so afraid of seeming weak, of being vulnerable, that we forget what love means. That we forget we are worthy of love.
Dearest, you are worthy of love. And because you’re worthy of love, you’re also worthy of help. The kind of help that helping’s all about.
This can be a hard teaching, eh? So I encourage you, wherever you are in this equation, to PILE on, to DRENCH yourself in compassion. No matter what we do, we’re doing the best we have with the tools we can reach at the time. Be gentle, gentle, gentle. Let us together be persistently gentle, and so be willing to ask for the help we need and long for.
Blessings, my loves, blessings –