The Raphael Remedy

Taking the Time to Nurture Others

by | Oct 6, 2016 | Counseling

Earlier this summer I had entered the lobby of my small office building and noticed the plant in the far corner was almost dead. I could tell from looking at the poor guy that it had not been watered for several weeks based on the hard, dry soil, the 12 leaves that were brown and dead, and the remaining leaves that were drooping and on the verge of dying.

I immediately grabbed my coffee cup from my office and made trip after trip from the drinking fountain to the plant to thoroughly water the poor guy. I am so pleased to see how this plant (pictured with this article) has bounced back and I’ve now become this plant’s self-appointed care-taker.

It caused me to reflect that humans are like plants when we’re neglected; we begin to shrivel up and die while waiting for someone to come along and nurture us. Just as it has not been an overtaxing nor challenging task for me to tend to this plant in my building’s lobby, nurturing others doesn’t have to be a big undertaking. I think we often don’t get involved because we think we don’t have the time or money, or because we fear that if we reach out once, we’ll be committed for the long term. Yes, for some, nurturing can be a long-term commitment, but most often it can be someone simply saying “hello”, extending a kind word and asking how we are, a hug when we’re down, or a meal when we’re hungry. It can be joining hands in prayer with someone in pain and then holding that hand a little longer.

When I was in my master’s program, I remember watching a video on suicide and how to prevent it. I was amazed at how often the person with suicidal thoughts said he or she just wanted someone to care. One young man was contemplating jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge and he stopped when a stranger came up to him and said, “Can I help you?” and had concern in her eyes. Those simple words, and that look of caring that said I see you hurting, were all it took for this man to change his mind and to seek help.

As a Catholic therapist, it is my job, and very honestly my privilege, to be that person who cares for my clients. Oftentimes in a session I’m not doing some “fancy” therapeutic technique that’s promoted in the textbooks. I’m just listening to the client and really hearing what he or she is telling me. I’m holding my client’s pain with them, and sometimes for them, and giving them a safe place to show that pain. I guess you could say I’m that nurturing cup of water. But, we can all be that nurturing person for someone else. If we just open our eyes and our hearts…..

Our country is going through a very difficult time and there’s a lot of hurting people, and a lot of people who could use a bit of nurturing in their lives. My challenge is for each of us to be that person for someone else, be it a friend, a family member, or a stranger. It begins with us.

Jane McGill, LPC
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