This week I went to a meeting and someone asked me if my work with Gentle Wave takes a toll on me.

I had not considered that before. But when I did, my first reaction was why would it? I am so energized by what we do: providing care and comfort for people who need nothing more than a “gentle wave to reach the shore”. I love this work.

There is something special about being given the opportunity to engage with others on a compassionate level. It is not simply feeling sorry for someone or pitying their hardships. To the contrary, true compassion is when you become wholly sensitive to what they are experiencing. Even if you do not share their inner world, you connect with how they experience that world. When my clients’ suffer, I try not to shy away from that truth, but connect with it. Likewise, when they feel joy, I try to share the warmth of that joy. My goal is to make that connection.

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.
(Rabindranath Tagore)

The life-affirming aspect of bringing that approach to this work is an important reason it has not been overwhelming to me. Life takes a toll on all of us. But we also have the capacity to persevere. There is hope, and I find that life-affirming and joyous.

Older adults and people with disabilities have unique and sometimes difficult challenges. To help lift that burden, even a bit, is a special undertaking. Sometimes all they need is a gentle wave to help them reach the shore.

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