Bucket brigade of care

In a crisis, people care. People want to help. It’s what people do.

They offer help. They ask for ways to help. They often feel, themselves, helpless and I think, by offering to help, they hope to lessen their own helplessness.

When family and friends gather around one who is struck down, so suddenly and so sadly, there forms circles of care and help and assistance.

There is first and foremost, the one who has been struck down. In geometry, the center of the circle is called the origin, and so the one who is ill or injured could be considered the origin of the circle. But this is the wrong word in this sense, because it suggests that they caused this grave injury, this sorrowful state. So perhaps a better word is focus. They are the focus of the circle, the point which receives the care and love pouring in from the outer chords and arcs, and along the radii. They may be conscious of what’s flowing to them. Or they may not. The focus is the most helpless. They have no one else to offer their help to and so have no way to alleviate their own sense of helplessness, because of course it’s silly and selfish to try to help one’s own self, right? And yet that is not only what the focus must do, it is exactly what everyone gathered around, figuratively and literally, wish most fervently.

There are those on the inner circle, and those are the folks that we most want to help. They get the most offers; people stand ready to do any thing, to say any words of comfort. The inner circle people are only one step removed from the center of the circle, their lives directly touch the stricken one. They, too, are often wished to take care of themselves and they, too, often disregard that wish.

Being as I am currently on a secondary level, I find myself in the position of both offering to help in any way I can those closest to the focus, as well as receiving offers of help from those further out. I feel guilty for accepting or acknowledging the offers of help from my friends, and selfish for not being able to offer more help to those most in need. I am simply a middle link in the bucket brigade of love and help, a temporary channel for transferring the love along its journey to the focus.

And if the focus falters or weakens, it threatens to make us feel as though we did not care or love enough.

But that has no effect. The connection of the outer circles to the inner circles to the focus exists separately from the struggle of the focus to care for their self. The truest test of the bucket brigade of care is that it is there. It’s always there, immanent, inherent, waiting for an event to call it into being, but hoping that no such event arises.

Love wishes to be called into existence.

Love regrets the often sorrowful circumstances of its creation.

Which explains the messy paradox of life in the limited universe we inhabit.

The moral I take from this is to not wait for a tragic creation of love, but to find joyful ways to call it into a life. Just that: don’t wait. Do it now.

How can I help?