Three weeks ago, I attended the Leading Age national conference in Philadelphia. Leading Age is the organization that represents the not-for-profit eldercare providers in the United States and Canada. Over 7,000 people attend the conference each year.
Shortly after I landed in Philadelphia after the 5-hour flight from Portland, I learned of the horrific attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. As I walked through the terminal, I was struck by the large groups of people that had gathered around the tv monitors in the waiting in the areas. I, too, stopped and watched for a few minutes. Looking around, I noticed several people in tears. “How can something like this happen in our country?”, was the refrain I heard repeated several times.
Needless to say, the attack and its aftermath had me mournful. It was not a night to socialize. I stayed in my hotel room and watched the news.
I awoke the next morning still feeling somber. The first session of the conference started at 8:00 am Sunday morning. I had signed up for a 4-hour session on hospice. An important topic, but I wondered whether this was really the subject I needed to hear about that morning. I entered to conference to find the seats were filling up quickly. I took a seat at a table with one seat remaining. We all introduced ourselves. It turned out that my tablemates were from Lutheran, Methodist, and Catholic mission-based organizations in the east and mid-west. When I told them, I was from a Jewish organization, all three immediately expressed their condolences on the shooting in Pittsburgh. One even asked me what she could do that day to help. My spirits were lifted hearing their kind words to this total stranger. In retrospect, I should not have been surprised. This was after all a Leading Age conference, an organization of diverse senior care providers, whose missions are based on compassion and caring.
When I returned to CSP later in the week my spirits were lifted yet again by the generosity of spirit shown by a group of residents from Mary’s Woods, the Catholic mission-based life plan community. A group of residents had sent a beautiful note of condolence to the residents of Rose Schnitzer Manor. It appears below.
Dear Residents of Cedar Sinai Park,
It is with great sadness that we reach out to you
today in response to the shooting at the Tree of
Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. We stand in
solidarity with you as you mourn the loss of your
brothers and sisters in faith. We offer our thoughts
and prayers in hopes that it will bring you comfort
in this terrible time.
Our deepest condolences,
Residents of Mary’s Woods
As it happens, I recently finished reading the book, The Compassionate Achiever, by Christopher L. Kukk, Ph.D., a veteran of the United States military and intelligences services, and currently a college professor in Connecticut. In the book Kukk writes about making the world a more compassionate place. He speaks about starting at the local level with our day-to-day interactions. “All of your personal interactions are like small stones of compassion dropped into a pond, creating ripples that reach far beyond you.” I couldn’t help but think about my conversation at that table in Philadelphia, the offer to help, and the beautiful note from our friends at Mary’s Woods. The ripples from the kindness they showed reached across the country and back. “Compassion is contagious” wrote Kukk. “Your acts of compassion will make others more likely to act with compassion.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Marty Baicker, CEO