"Well...I think it's mostly because I can." I finally replied. It took me a moment before I looked up again at her after answering. The first look she had given me had left my heart pounding with the knowledge that this woman had suffered in a way that I, in my twenty-one years could not begin to imagine, and for some reason had left me feeling ashamed. I couldn't help but think that a look like that must have been developed over time, and almost felt responsible for it, as if something or someone could have prevented it from ever surfacing.
Overcome with the guilt that accompanied this thought, I almost didn't realize that I suddenly was surrounded by warmth as this woman reached out to embrace me. The hug went just as quick as it had come, and she pulled away, but not without first taking a moment to grab my face gently with her roughly calloused hands, raising my head up, and with a detectable quiver in her voice, whispering, "Thank You" to me. She then turned to look at her nearly finished house, placed her hand over her heart and with amazement, headed away from the porch we were both standing on and into the front door of her new home.
I remember standing there for a second, feeling dazed and overwhelmed with emotion as I tried to choke back the tears that were starting to threaten my composure. It wasn't her words that struck me, I hear people say, "Thank You" a million times a day and often for reasons that are minuscule in comparison.
Nope. It definitely wasn't the words that left me speechless, it was the look in her eyes as she said it. They had softened with gratitude, tears of joy were playing at their corners as if some of that ice she had formed around her heart had melted, and with that a weight that even Atlas couldn't shrug had been lifted. To her, I didn't just help build her a house, I had somehow managed to restore her faith in humanity. What I had given her was a home, but what she had given me - that look, and the implications behind it, was priceless.
There is a short story I'd like to share, a story that some of you may have heard before, but is worth repeating...
The Wise Woman's Stone
"A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a very rare and precious stone in the midst of a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to him, offering to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone inside and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation, and the traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.
"I've been thinking," he said, "I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone."
A lot of people think that Chronic Lyme Disease is an invisible illness. I couldn't disagree more. There's a certain unmistakable look in the eyes of every Lyme sufferer I've ever come across, and I even notice it in mine at times. It's the look of someone exhausted from carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, a look that holds immense physical pain and unrelenting mental confusion that often is incapable of verbal expression; the look of defeat in a battle-wearied soul. But how many people ever really take the time to look into those eyes...why on earth would they ever want to?
I guess the message I'm trying to convey is that, in my experience, there is nothing more rewarding than giving to those in need, and that - if you are healthy enough to do so, it is the one thing that I find is the most enriching to lives (yours included : )
PS. In a previous post, I said that I would try to avoid advertising on this site. However, one of the main intentions of this blog is to help raise funds for the medical treatments of those in need. Unfortunately, the whole "donating" idea hasn't proven to be effective, and believe me, in this economy - I understand!
However, raising funds is still a priority of mine, and therefore I've "given in" to the whole advertising idea, and have even joined "Amazon Associates" where if you go to the page entitled "My Amazon Store" and purchase a product through that online store, Amazon has agreed to give me a 15% commission.
I've also added info-links (they're the underlined words colored in fuchsia). If you click on them, I will receive a small payment, however, I feel obliged to tell you that if you find them EXTREMELY annoying, all you have to do is click on the question mark after you hover your mouse over the link and chose the "opt out" option. This will prevent your browser from ever seeing them again.
One last, but VERY important thing. I can't help but notice that I've accrued some followers along the way, and to be honest, many more than I had originally expected! To me this is truly an amazing kindness, one that I can't help but feel unbelievably grateful for. You have no idea how good it feels to know that I'm not alone, that these words are not being most heartfully said in an entirely empty room. Thank You...