Lent 2017: No to Suffering in Silence

I was at a client site today--a huge bureaucracy in downtown Seattle, the kind that has a committee for every possible eventuality. There were posters everywhere about "What to do in Case of Emergency." The first item, big at the top, was:

Yell for Help!

I laughed. Below that were all the other things about 911, fire routes, etc. I thought it was funny that we need to be reminded to yell, but then I thought again. There must be a real reason we need that reminder. How many times do I suffer in silence? How many times do I consider NOT asking for help some kind of heroic act? How many times do I work overtime to solve things myself or expect others to read my mind when I'm sad, frustrated, or feeling left out?

Rumi says the need brings in what's needed. The mother's milk comes when the baby cries. The suffering, the crying out, is the impetus for abundance.

Did anyone here the NPR story today about the depressed woman whose boyfriend had just broken up with her? Her sink was piled with dirty dishes and her house was buried in snow after an epic snowstorm. She could function just enough to get herself to work, and posted something on Facebook about needing help. A co-worker who she barely knew came over with her husband while the woman (Laura in the story below) was at work. Here's a bit from the story:

LANTZ (Narrator): Yeah, it was bad. Ruthie went inside to plug in the snowblower, and she saw the pile of dishes, so she washed them. She noticed the floors, so she mopped them. Laura was still at work, but when she got home that evening, she couldn't believe her eyes.

LAURA (Protagonist): It felt like I could say help, and it wasn't weak to need their help. Like, it made me feel strong again.

LANTZ: Laura says that what Ruthie and Bill did was a jumpstart for her. But for them, it was natural.

R. BROWN (Good Samartian): If there's something you can do to help somebody or do something, you don't let that pass because you can't go back. You can never go back and try to help her again on that day.

LANTZ: Laura says when it comes down to it, Ruthie had no idea what she was going through, but she acted anyway.

LAURA: She just needed to know that my dishes were dirty and that there was some soap right there. And she could just pick it up, and solve that problem. So it really has made me, like, want to be somebody who picks up the soap.

Come on! Isn't that a beautiful story? It's tempting to read it as a story about the helper (which it partly is), but it's really about the receiver. Ruthie would have never been able to give if Laura hadn't been vulnerable enough to ask for help. Giving can't happen without receiving--we give others a gift when we let them in and tell them what we need.

Yell for help! Then be ready for the water to come pouring from the spring.