I’ve shared my thoughts and questions on connection, the ground of relationship. Today, I want to contemplate caring as the water of relationship…the blood of relationship.
To care about is
To attach importance to another’s existence.
To experience another’s body, soul and spirit with tender attention and awareness
To think of, feel about, and act with heartfelt warmth for another.
To want to know the mystery of another.
I thrive on caring and being cared about. Don’t you? Please notice that I am not writing about caring for. It is caring about that we are contemplating.
Reflect on each of those five relationships you named for your reflections on connection. This time think about how you care about this person and how they care about you. Caring really brings life into a relationship and keeps it new.
This post on caring has taken me a lot of time to write. I’ve been caring about caring, wanting to know what it is all about. It is something done all my life but rarely made conscious. So I have been surprised at the thoughts I have had over the two hours I’ve spent actively looking, feeling and thinking about the role of caring in relationship. making the distinction between caring about and caring for was a big one…I have been cared for by people who did not care about me and I am afraid I have done the same.
Like the flow of water and blood, caring about takes place in time and must make itself new every moment.
It’s Mother’s Day. As a mother I cared for my child, but that is only part of the complex activity of caring. I cared about who they were and who they were becoming, not just their needs. I wanted to get to know them anew every moment.
Then there is the stranger I pass in the aisle at the market, for a brief moment I will care about them. Or the checkout person, I care about them. And my shopping trip comes alive and finds warmth.
But I am mostly thinking about caring about those I am in deeper relationship with because I care about them over long periods of my day, my year, my life.
THE FLOW OF CARING
Caring about is never fixed. It flows and grows. and it stops and starts. Sometimes caring is a trickle, sometimes it is a level 5 rapid. Sometimes it evaporates and sometimes it floods.
As we build an imagination of ourselves in relationship, we need to realize the ebbs and flows of caring.
Like blood it brings life and carries away death.
Caring about is letting the other live in you as a strange and wonderful other. That I live in others because they care about me even in small ways is such joy.
To experience my four year old granddaughter look at me (who she hadn’t seen for six months) and say “You’re not a babysitter, you’re my grandmother!” or my grandson (who lives nearby and sees me all the time) say “Let’s fall in love, Nana, right this minute! ” is being cared about with the immediacy, love and wisdom of a child.
I remember as a little child saying my prayers at night and how I loved the “God bless… ” litany. It was a litany of caring and it was so unselfish and so full of self. Now as an adult it would be great to review my day through the filter of caring: how did I care and how was I cared for. But it would also be important to look at my caring failures (too little, too much, none at all), not to be ashamed but to be aware. To look at how others failed in caring for me, not to blame or suffer, but to notice and forgive.
All this only makes greater sense to me when I embrace the water/blood metaphor for caring.
This Mother’s Day celebrate the mystery of caring.
And for Mother’s Day, I want to share a quote from one of the participants in the Core Imaginations course who shared about the experience of being all one while caring about herself and her child.
“When I was first breastfeeding my child, I had this feeling of being all one within myself, of the incredible solitude of being the only one who was her mother, and I also had this feeling of being all one with every mother in the world– every solitary mother who sat at night breastfeeding her child.”
So let me add the flowing of mother’s milk to the liquid life-giving metaphors of water and blood.
Blessings on you for caring about someone. Swim daily in the wonderful waters of relationship.