At RevGals Martha writes: This time last Friday I was on my way to the airport to pick up your usual host for first Friday Five. We had a mighty to-do list for the Labor Day weekend, and her accomplishments were so far beyond impressive as to be heroic. A dumpster is now full of water-damaged junk from my basement.
This was not a job I could have accomplished by myself. I had to ask for help.
I hate to ask for help. I love to give it. You may identify with these feelings.
So, for this Friday Five, please list four ways you have been helped
when you didn't want to ask for it and one way you had a chance to help
that meant a lot to you.
1) Speaking of wet basements, years ago I moved from Indiana (land of my alma mater and first real adult job) back to Connecticut, the land of my birth. I moved in with my father, who had room in his house and a fenced yard for my dog. During my tenure there an early season hurricane swept through, dumping torrential rain and flooding the basement of dad's house. Oh, and while this was happening dad was in the hospital after suffering a heart attack. The water in the basement would recede, but in the meantime there was wet and damaged stuff submerged there that needed retrieval and disposal. Enter my beau, who without having to be asked rolled up his sleeves, donned the requisite waterproof boots and slogged through the mess to empty the basement debris. Hero status, henceforth and forever more!
2) When I moved to St. Louis to accept a call as associate rector I arrived with all my belongings, two dogs, and no place to live. A staff member at the church opened her home to me and my entourage, where we stored my things in her basement (dry!), and lived for three months until I bought and closed on my own home. Did I mention that one of those dogs was six months old at the time and chewing everything in sight? I could never repay the kindness and tolerance of that hospitality and am eternally grateful for it.
3) While at that same call in St. Louis I suffered a shattered heel one Thanksgiving weekend. After surgery I was non weight-bearing for four months, and for the first several weeks was confined to the couch with "toes above the nose." An army of parishioners brought meals, did my laundry, brought catalogs from which to shop for Christmas, mailed packages, delivered a Christmas tree and decked it out with my ornaments, took my dog to the vet (he was undergoing treatment for cancer), and in general saved my sanity. It was humbling (and necessary!) to receive the help, but I also learned from that experience how much people want to and are glad to be helpful.
4) When the last church I was serving could no longer afford to pay me and my bishop was less than enthusiastic about my priestly vocation, he offered to pay for several sessions with a noted career coach in my area. There are a lot of things that could be said about that entire episode of transition out of the Church, but the focus of this post is the help he offered. It was life-changing, and as I am in yet another period of transition in life the work I did with the coach is proving exceedingly beneficial and liberating.
5) It's always meaningful to help someone in need, but oddly those occasions aren't logged in a quickly retrievable part of my brain. The occasion that does come to mind happened a few years ago while driving from Tennessee to St. Louis to visit friends. I was on the interstate in Kentucky, and spotted ahead of me what appeared to be a huge lump in the middle of the road. As I got nearer it looked like a dog, alive because it was holding its head up. I pulled off the road, ventured to the dog to check its status, kept an eye on approaching traffic and then carried the dog to the other side of the road. There wasn't any blood, but I didn't know how to check for injury or damage. Shortly another car pulled over, the driver a K9 handler with the Knoxville police department. I was willing to take the dog with me to St. Louis (one of my best friends there is a veterinarian), but Dan was covering a shorter distance to his destination and he offered to see to the dog's care. It turned out that the dog had dislocated his shoulder, and Dan's mother adopted him and named him Spencer. Dan and I were in touch for several years, and we even had lunch when I was driving through Knoxville once upon a time. It's time to look him up again.