My interest in decluttering was flagging. Alys, at Gardening Nirvana, who is a professional organiser in RL, offered some timely, kindly advice. “Set a timer, ” she said, “and go all out for 15 minutes or so, and see how much you can get done.” So I did. Yesterday. Worked like a charm. I raced through a heap of files, containing documents dating back to the 1990s, some of which, ( oh irony of ironies ), related to a storage facility I once used in New York!
Sigh of bliss…. so satisfactory ! to achieve so much in so short a period. And not only did I declutter, but I also discovered, tucked away in a corner of a shelf, a small Helen Exley giftbook , called Words on Kindness.
It’s the dearest wee book, full of wonderful quotes. Several of them I greeted like old friends. Others were as new, to me, because I had forgotten them completely. Many of them moved me deeply. The quote I have open before me today is this:
Even as a mother
protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all
over the entire world.
The Buddha ( c 563 – c 483 B.C. )
A painting, Mother and Child, by Edgar Degas, illustrates the text. I cannot find a link to that painting. Instead, I have selected this painting by Mary Cassatt who worked closely with, and was influenced by, Degas.As I read Words on Kindness, in another part of the world, far, far from me, a champion of mothers and children, a champion of kind words and deeds, was celebrating her 91st birthday. I am referring to the remarkable Dr Catherine Hamlin, co-founder, with her husband Dr Reg Hamlin, of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. Dr Catherine, has spent more than half a century living in Ethiopia, serving some of the most marginalised women in the world.
” In the 1950s Catherine and her late husband Reg went to Ethiopia to train midwives, but their attention soon turned to the plight of the fistula sufferers.
Together the Hamlins perfected the modern technique for obstetric fistula surgery and have treated more than 40,000 women, more than 90% of them cured.”
– See more at: http://hamlin.org.au/#sthash.QyWleIWz.dpuf
An award winner documentary, A Walk to Beautiful, was made about the fistula patients, and the life-changing care given at the Fistula Centres in Ethiopia.
More about the work of the Fistula Hospital and Dr Hamlin can be seen here. It is a difficult, even harrowing, video to watch but it is ultimately a testament to the transformational nature of compassion and radiating kindness.
If I can stop one heart
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
Emily Dickinson (1830 -1886)