If I put the word “take” in front of “care” then it becomes another important message: take care. If we are to help others, we must first take care of ourselves. Or maybe we must also take care of ourselves. It is the message we get on airplanes about putting the oxygen mask on first so we are able to care for others. To care about oneself is to realize that what you put into your body becomes your body, what you do with your body impacts your body’s ability to function and that your body is the home for your inner spirit while you reside here.
Care is also something we give as a gift to others. When my mother was in Hospice, I was amazed by the compassion her caretakers had for her. They barely knew her, yet they cared for her a gently as they would their own mother. The tender touch we give a newborn, the comfort we give as we wrap our arms around an injured child, the casual caress we give our partner upon departure, all of these signs of caring are shown through tender, physical touch. We can also demonstrate caring by taking the first step, calling first, being the first to suggest a get together, the first to send a comment, the first to offer to help, the first to volunteer. We show we care by giving advice to others that will enable them to enrich their own lives, to improve their health and their future. We demonstrate caring by cooking a special meal, buying a little treat for no reason, doing something nice “just because.”
We show we care when we relax, decompress our schedule, make time, when we sit on the beach with someone and just listen to the waves and watch the seagulls. The ability to care is not reserved for humans, animals demonstrate caring and unconditional love, but we can express our caring with words and acts of kindness, and because we can, we must.