* Using Jesus as our model, we learn that caring costs; it involves deep identification with another's suffering.
* Caring is also characterized by "a downward pull". This can be disconcerting--"We find it easier to look upwards with envy than downwards with compassion".
* It's possible to involve ourselves with others for the wrong reasons, such as to avoid facing our own needs or to prove we're worthwhile. Resentment and self-pity often follow.
* In order to care well, "we must become people of contemplation." The disciplines of inwardness "protect us from taking sacred acts of caring and cheapening them by using them as a diversion".
Caring brings joy; "we receive the most in the end."
The 160 women in attendance were further treated to practical stories of caring. Marge Warkentin gave examples from the church ministry she and her husband Dale do in Flin Flon, Man. Often people came seeking "relief", she said, and through that were led toward "truth".
Ruth Ewert of Newton, Man. spoke of being on the receiving end of care, while herself caring for a handicapped son. She recounted four acts by four people which helped her through times that resembled being in "a tunnel".
Each session started with laughter. Comedian Dinah Elias rendered perfectly the stereotypical Mennonite "bumpkin" with her anxieties over Tupperware parties and riding hotel elevators, and a brash country gal with a southern twang.
There was lots of music as well, both in singing together and in enjoying the ministry of Ruth Pledger, a Winnipeg singer-songwriter and mother of five. A concert of prayer and communion concluded the conference. The day's offering raised $1933 toward a new convection oven for Simonhouse Bible Camp.
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