There is an African Proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child”. This same quote is also attributed to Hillary Clinton as she explores the idea in her book of that same name. Having a child, I now fully understand this concept. My husband and I rely on and trust many individuals to help shape our son on his journey in life. And I think this concept of a “village” is not just for children, but for us all. I would say it takes a village to raise us all, as well as, raise us up.
It has been a difficult few months for my family. My elderly mother fell and broke her hip. Although she is fiercely independent, she is in her 80’s and lives alone. We three daughters live in different cities than she does and are not able to give daily care. We had to make lots of fast decisions about how to help her. And my sisters and I realized that we alone couldn’t help her. And we were not alone. There was the village.
I was amazed and deeply touched by all the people willing to help. I began talking to my mother’s neighbors who I hadn’t visited with for quite some time. I now have their phone numbers as “new contacts” in my phone as they called for updates and offers to help. My mother had a newer minister that I hadn’t had a chance to meet. Even before I got to meet her, she and I were texting each other necessary information about my mom’s needs. And when we did meet in the hospital, at my mom’s bedside, she led us in prayer. Giving deep comfort. All sorts of friends helped my mom as she transitioned into her new life. And with my sisters, when one of us would grow weary from all the tasks at hand, another would pick up the baton and carry on with what needed to be done. We reached out and the village reached back.
Just as my mom was settled into her new assisted living apartment, my father-in-law, John, fell and hit his head. He was already in the nursing home and had lots of health issues. His different health issues proved to be too much for him and he was placed on hospice. He then only lived for a short time. All the while the village was there. There were phone calls, people who helped with things that needed to be done, prayers offered, and just so much love. That love is still carrying us as we learn a new normal for our family without John.
My father-in-law’s life is a testament to the village. John’s father died when he was only 7 years old. It was 1940 and he left behind his wife and five children ages nine to one. People asked how she managed after his death. John said that his mother, Georgine, didn’t do it by herself. She had a lot of family and people around town who helped her. John indicated that if he or one of his siblings got into trouble, someone in town would react and reach out. Everyone was keeping an eye out for them. The village was there, not only for the children, but for Georgine as well.
John had a quote on his office door by which he lived. “The best portion of a man’s life are his little nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love”—William Wordsworth. For me, that is how the village works. When we help each other, raise each other up by our thoughts, words, or deeds, we are living the best part of our life. Those “unremembered acts of kindness” become the cornerstone for the village. And although he is gone, his words and actions weave themselves into our own actions today. He continues to raise up the village now through us.
During these difficult months, our village sought us out. There were so many kind words, offers of help, prayers, and love. We were absolutely raised up. Jane Howard says, “call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family, whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” There is so much immense gratitude for what has been given during that time. Now it is my responsibility –no, actually it is my offering to power of love to be a stronger part of someone’s village. And to also join into some new places where there is a need.
We can’t solve every problem but we can raise each other up with our love. It takes a village for us all.