Site icon Mindy Weschler

Building Community

Sunset in Nhkata Bay
Sunset in Nhkata Bay

I had a break down of sorts this afternoon, always a sign that I need to sit and write. Happily and openly weeping under the beautiful tree in our backyard, I am overcome by emotion.  Our tree stretches her jagged branches skyward. She provides shade, roosting for owls and songbirds, and a cozy canopy for my meditation and yoga practice.     My heart overflows with thanks and gratitude for revelations I am experiencing during mediation today.  The power of my emotions breaks me open, and I sob with heartfelt joy at the depth of experience revealed in the journey inward.  Strange, weird, crazy?  This journey continues to astound and mystify me.

Backyard tree, looking upward

Today I have become aware of how expansive and vulnerable I am in offering my whole heart to people who reach out, engage with me, and offer theirs. What a joyful awareness! Just in the last week there is a handful, or two, individuals who I have become fond of, laugh with, embrace, and greet with the typical Malawian handshakes. Their friendship, warmth and kindness opens my heart.

Very tempting!

Initially, the nurses on the surgical unit, where I supervise students, were remote, uninterested, aloof. I made an effort to write down their names and KNOW them, opening some doors. As the old adage goes, the way to the heart is through the stomach. Baking is the key! Once a week on the day that my favs are working, I arrive with a coffee cake or banana bread for them to share during their tea break. Catapulted into stardom by this simple gesture, they now yell across the unit when I arrive, with or without baked items, just to say hello. This warms my heart and we high five each other with laughter.

Fav patient heading home with his wife

Brenda, one of my students, approached me sheepishly just before I left the unit today. She wanted to make sure I knew that the patient she had been caring for last week had died. She had put forth great effort to create comfort, cleanliness, and better nutrition in an effort to provide the very best care, but he died on Sunday, just before she got to the hospital. When I asked her how she felt about this, her eyes welled up. It was her first experience losing a patient. I took her into a private area and put my arms around her and she sobbed on my shoulder. All I could do was acknowledge her feelings, reassuring her this is normal and healthy, and thanked her for her willingness to share so openly with me.

Happy baby boy in his dress!

Vitumbiko, a fav nurse listens to music with one earbud as she struts around the unit. She asked me today where I go to church as she lives near me. We then talked about church music as I have wondered how to get the music they sing and dance to at my church. I played it for her on my phone. Thirty minutes later, she scurried up to me, dragging Felix with her. I had met Felix at the church celebration weeks before. She gleefully said, I went to Labor and Delivery to get Felix because he knows where to get the music. Sure enough, he listened to my brief recording and is bringing in the CD for me tomorrow.


Kwame is an 11 year old boy with the worst burn wound and necrotizing infection I have ever seen. I observed his surgery a few weeks ago, sure he would lose his leg. He has been recovering on pediatrics, and I have adopted him and mom, Sekai, who also has an 8 month old. She has no food unless a friend brings it, generally nsima that is basically maize flour and water. I visit Kwame daily, sometimes bringing a toy car, ball, or lollipop. He needs protein so I bring him eggs, chicken, rice, peanuts, which he inhales. He just lights up when he sees me coming. Mom has shared her phone number and invited me to her home in the village to visit.

Wheelchair, really?

Then of course there is Veronica who brought little Mindy and her husband over to visit for tea on Sunday. Dad is a policeman in a town about 60 miles away. He humbly and continually expressed his gratitude for my presence at the birth.  Veronica was back on the unit today, facing dismissal if she misses 2 weeks of clinical.  So much for the 3 month maternity leave.

Veronica, little Mindy and hubby

I am confident that this is my higher power working with me, in me, to be open and willing to engage fully in these experiences and connections. The result is a feeling of ease, belonging, connection, of spiritual presence.     I am both humbled and encouraged by this new awareness of acceptance and community developing and am looking forward to this expansion unfolding in ways I cannot possibly imagine.

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