A friend of mine who is a Unitarian minister, who also happens to be one of the most spiritual people I know, wrote me a lovely note of encouragement. Underneath her contact signature on her emails, I noticed that she uses this Mary Oliver quote. I was struck by it because I have been trying really hard to not feel sorry for myself — mostly because I still feel pretty lucky that I have the kind of cancer thats treatable — and even curable, and also because getting cancer is just one of those things that happens to humans. It can happen, and (all too frequently) does happen to anyone. I’ve fought off self-pity because, to basically paraphrase an old Babylonian scholar named Hillel, “If not me, who? If not now, when?”
But reading this quote helped to give myself permission to conjure up a small dose of compassion for myself. I wont wallow in it, but putting a toe in the pity pond now and again might not be a bad thing – especially if it’s a reminder that we can all be a little kinder to each other. Maybe it’s this kind of charity that does begin at home.