The Gift of Help. Giving Birth to Hope

Jan 20, 2020 at 09:11 am by Paulette Jackson

Yellow warbler song bird singing in tree flowers by Scott Leslie, Fine Art America

Her son had a nasty cough for several days, so the nights were a little busy with up and downs. While he was "on the mend," the previous night brought the realization that another virus was at work.

Son: *Coughing. Hacking* Crying, "M-o-m-m-y!"

Mom: "Buddy, are you alright? Are you hurting?" *changes pull-up, wipes nose, offers cough medicine, cuddles him*

Son: *Coughs and sniffles* "AAHHH! Mama! Help meeee!!!!"

Mom: *Heart breaking* "Oh honey, what's wrong? Do you want some water, baby?"

Son: *Quiet sniffling* "Noooo… my sock fell off."

Mom found the sock, adjusted her son's wrinkled sleep pants, covered him with his blanket and left the room, after which he promptly fell asleep. But it became clear to her that the throes of being 2 years old were active. And she had heard there was no cure…

Help. It is a gift, both desired and needed. But asking for this gift, also assumes a certain amount of risk. While our hope is that requests for "help" will be responded to with openness and consideration, historical memory may remind us of encountered incidences of condescension, or rejection, sending the message that asking for help is a weakness. The result of what we might learn? "Don't even ask." 

While regrettably, affirmative responses to requests for help have often been denied to many, its universal need still remains, to be offered and honored as a vehicle of hope for the human heart, soul and life soul – our own and others.

In the book, titled Consolations, by David Whyte, readers are introduced a beautiful gift regarding the perspective of Help, and its meaning to our lives.

"Help is strangely, something we want to do without, as if the very idea disturbs and and blurs the boundaries of our individual endeavors, as if we cannot face how much we need in order to go on. We are born with an absolute necessity for help, grow well only with a continuous succession of extended hands, and as adults depend upon others for our further successes and possibilities in life even as competent individuals. Even the most solitary writer needs a reader, the most Machiavellian mobster, a trusted lieutenant, the most independent candidate, a voter.

Not only does the need for help never leave us alone; we must apprentice ourselves to its different necessary forms, at each particular threshold of our lives. At every stage we are dependent on our ability to ask for specific forms of help at very specific times and in very specific ways. Even at the end, the dignity of our going depends on others' willingness to help us die well; the sincerity of their help often commensurate to the help we extended to them in our own life. Every transformation has at its heart the need to ask for the right kind of generosity.

An impending birth certainly means we look for aid: a place for it to occur, midwives, doctor, a husband or partner to be present, a nest in which to welcome the child, a job to support a new life. And the one who is born needs endless help, food from the breast, walking and carrying at night, changes, washes, clothes and a great deal of cooing and clucking.

The parents of those who need help need another kind of help themselves; their very own parents, parent of other children, playmates for the child, sometimes copious amounts of red wine and never ending amounts of sleep. They also need a new perspective, a new imagination for the next stage of their relationship. Romance is temporarily in abeyance, logistics loom over all; hands are full, the relationship itself needs a helping hand. 

The overwhelming need for help never really changes in a human life from the first day we are brought from the womb calling lustily for that commodity. We need extraordinary physical help to get through our first years, continued help through our childhood and extraordinary emotional help and good luck to get through our adolescence. After that the need for continual help becomes more subtle, hidden as it is by the illusion that we are suddenly free agents able to survive on our own, the one corner of the universe able to supply its own answers.

It may be that the ability to know the necessity for help; to know how to look for that help and then most importantly, how to ask for it, is one of the primary transformative dynamics that allows us to emancipate ourselves into each new epoch of our lives. Without the understanding that we need a particular form of aid at every crucial threshold in our lives and without the robust vulnerability in asking for that help we cannot pass through the door that bars us from the next dispensation of our lives: we cannot birth ourselves.

To ask for help and to ask for the right kind of help and to feel that it is no less than our due as a live human being; to feel, in effect, that we deserve it, may be the engine of transformation itself. "

And perhaps, asking for help, is in truth, the divine precursor to experiencing the fulfillment of a new birth, to a redeeming hope, reminding us of our worth and our one precious life, created in the image of the holy – even when we are screaming,"Help meee! My Sock fell off!"

May we be reminded of the gift of help, that gives birth to hope; "That thing with feathers – that perches in the soul – and sings the tune without the words – And never stops – at all." (Emily Dickinson)

For the Support of Your Life
Fro the Many Sides of Life
Paulette Jackson lpc-mhsp

photo credit:

  • yellow-warbler-song-bird-singing-in-tree-flowers-scott-leslie-fine art america
  • The story above from a mother is used by permission. 


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