Life can be very burdensome for some people. There are all kinds of burdens- worry, responsibility, disappointments, hurts, bitterness, guilt, illness, unemployment, a difficult relationship, addiction…
But how often do we consider that a burden is being carried by the very person who helps us the most?
Today in the additional challenging times of the Covid 19 pandemic we are blessed with the most incredible workers to help us overcome our challenges. They silently provide the background jobs that support us in so many different ways. They support the more visible health care staff in hospitals and care homes but they also help us in direct ways. They enable us all to get home deliveries, sanitation and practical help when our own movements are restricted while confined to our homes. Very often these generous people are poorly paid and sadly taken for granted. They are valued, not for themselves, but only for the service they provide. They would be noticed only if they were missing.
The Irish writer, John McGahern, tells of an incident which happened when he was writer in residence at Trinity College, Dublin. A woman came in one day a week to clean his room. In less than an hour she’d have everything shining and in its proper place. She was a charming woman and often they talked as she cleaned. She told him how she waited each morning for the private bus at six o’clock that took the cleaners to Trinity, and that she was able to be home in time to cook the family dinner.
Of the professor who occupied the room before McGaher she said, ‘I cleaned his room for fourteen years, and he never once spoke to me. I used to say “Good morning” at first, but after a while I didn’t say anything. They say he’s one of the cleverest men in the whole university, but I say he has the manners of a bowsie.” (Irish slang for low class person)
How a little sensitivity, or a word of appreciation, would help to make a heavy burden light. It makes the world of difference when people are recognised, and treated with kindness and respect.