Nancy and I volunteer at the LDS Columbus Ohio Temple one Saturday a month. Yesterday I again noticed a man I have seen several times over the last couple of years. I would guess he is in his early forties. He had a head of grey hair, and I imagined him the father of a busy family with a few teenagers in the mix. I have to say that I took notice of him because he always has had a simple and warm smile. Though I still don’t even know his name and have never had an extended conversation with him, a few words that come to mind to describe him are genuine, sincere, full of integrity, unassuming. You know the type.
Yesterday he was helping a man in a wheelchair whom I have not seen before. Because I was officiating the session, I asked the helper what I could do to help. If a very respectful manner, he said he wasn’t sure. He never was sure how much the man could actually do for himself or what help he would want or need. No rancor; no exasperation; just fact. His respectful answer told me that his wheelchair companion had an independent streak—but not a fierce one.
So I watched them attentively. It soon became apparent to me that these men were brothers, not only because I finally saw that they looked a lot alike, but because they knew each other as only brothers know each other. What became more and more of a blessing to observe was how they interacted with each other. First, there was never any outward negotiating. The helper brother was keenly and intuitively aware of what his brother was capable of doing in the moment. He displayed no expectation or surprise or frustration if what he was or was not capable of doing was different than the last time they interacted. In every instant, he let his brother lead and respected his brothers desire and attempt to do what he needed to do by himself and then filled in at the precise moment when his brother had reached his limit. It didn’t matter that that limit changed in every interaction.
And after watching their interaction, it finally hit me how much love I was seeing and feeling in their interaction with each other. The helper brother knew that there were limits, even though he was never sure what they were at any given moment in time. But he recognized and served when they were manifest and when he was needed. He didn’t wait to be asked. And the helped brother also knew that he had limits, but he never let them define him or what he would or would not try and/or accomplish. And though independent, he was never too proud to accept the help of his brother. He didn’t have to ask.
No rancor. No frustration. No negotiation. No concealed expectations. No exasperation. No pride.
Only service. And lots of love.