We strengthen life any time that we listen
generously or encourage someone
to find meaning, or wonder about possibility, or dream or hope or
self-judgment and inner criticism, or know that they matter.
Anytime we share
someone's joy, we bless the life in them.
Jesse does this as naturally as she
breathes. Her own life has not been easy;
nonetheless she is a celebrator, a deeply happy person.
Although she has had
two episodes of colon cancer and many professional disappointments,
in life is tangible. I smile whenever I am in the same room
with her. So does
everyone else. She is always one of the first to celebrate
to remember anniversaries, to congratulate people on their
she knows them well or not. So Jesse is one of the first
people to call
when something good happens to you or to someone you love. She
to listen to the whole story with delight. Often when you
finish talking to
her you feel even better about what has happened, luckier than
Once as we were sitting together in a doctor's
office, awaiting the lab results
of her six-month chemotherapy checkup, I had asked her about her joy
in life. Her own life had been so hard.
Didn't she feel envious of
others who had
things she did not? She had smiled at the thought and shaken
her head. "Then
what is your secret?" I had asked her, laughing. Suddenly
serious, she had
replied that it seemed to her that joy was not something
personal. When I looked
at her, baffled, she explained she has found that if you are
genuinely happy for them,
people are very generous with their joy and share it with you
openheartedly. "When something good happens to the person next to me, I am
there to celebrate
it with them. Their good luck makes me feel lucky. I
rejoice with them about it
as fully as if it was happening to me," she told me.
"It makes me really happy." She paused and looked thoughtful. "Of course, then it is
happening to me,"
she said with a grin.
When Jesse was first diagnosed, her cancer had
spread beyond her bowel. Despite
this, her surgeon had operated and removed as much of it as he
but he could not remove it all. "We need to keep her
comfortable for as long
as we can," he told me. But that was fifteen years
ago. It makes you wonder. When you strengthen the life around you, perhaps you strengthen the
life within you.
on serving others