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  • Frank Basler

Love is the Foundational Structure of the Universe

I was surrounded by love as I watched Westport’s Memorial Day parade this week. There was an outpouring of love for the nonagenarian veterans in classic convertibles and for the 6-year-old Suzuki School fiddlers dancing past us. Our friends had greeted us with hugs and kisses when we arrived at this annual party. Everyone was so excited to be maskless, out among people they had not seen in months, enjoying a quintessential American ritual. Love flowed.


When the parade ended, a friend told a powerful story of love in action, which, combined with a quote I read when I got home, inspired this post. First the quotation:

Choctaw elder and Episcopal Bishop Steven Charleston describes in practical terms how [foundational] love and foundational hope surround us at all times:

The signs are all around us. We can see them springing up like wildflowers after the prairie rain…. People who had been content to watch are wanting to join. People who never said a word are speaking out. The tipping point of faith is the threshold of spiritual energy, where what we believe becomes what we do.[1]


Rotary International is a prime example of an organization filled with spiritual energy and whose beliefs become what they do.[2] Our friend chairs international projects for our local club and told us excitedly how it came about that over a million dollar’s worth of used medical equipment will soon be on two containers heading for a hospital in Uganda. The story is complex, mirroring the intricate web of connections and contacts that brought it about:


· On a Rotary service trip to Uganda in 2019, a few club members visited Bwindi Hospital that serves 4 million people in Uganda. A new addition had since been built for the hospital’s first ICU, but no funds for equipment were available. Could Rotary help?


· Our friend learned that a local doctor had a basement full of used medical equipment. He received the equipment when a local hospital was acquired by a large medical system who wanted to refurbish and modernize the facility. His intention was to send it to a hospital in Bangladesh, but new COVID regulations prevented that shipment. He recently took a job in another city. What could he do with the stuff in his basement?


· The son of a club member is the project engineer for a building being rehabbed in Brooklyn. That answered the temporary storage question. Rotary members provided trucks and manpower to deliver the goods while it awaits shipment to Uganda.


· Another contact led Rotary to Denver-based Project C.U.R.E which completed a full assessment of Bwindi Hospital’s needs with the Ugandan doctors and staff. That organization will provide even more needed used equipment that was collected from among 27 hospitals in the Denver area.[3]


· Individual Rotarians from clubs around the country contributed biomedical expertise and additional financial resources.


· The hospital needed an X-ray machine and four ventilators which could not be found used. Rotary was able to negotiate the purchase of these items and they will be included in the shipment.


· In the process of researching equipment needs, Rotary was also able to arrange for the shipment of much needed pharmaceuticals to Bwindi Hospital.


· Rotary is also looking into sending physicians on medical missions to provide training and biomedical technicians to ensure the equipment is properly used.


Did your eyes glaze over with all this detail? The point is that a hospital in Uganda will receive all the equipment they need to open their new ICU because they have been surrounded by a complex network of love and care.


Bishop Charleston continues:

Sometimes, in this troubled world of ours, we forget that love is all around us. We imagine the worst of other people and withdraw into our own shells. But try this simple test: Stand still in any crowded place and watch the people around you. Within a very short time, you will begin to see love, and you will see it over and over and over. A young mother talking to her child, a couple laughing together as they walk by, an older man holding the door for a stranger—small signs of love are everywhere. The more you look, the more you will see. Love is literally everywhere. We are surrounded by love. [2][4]


Yes, we are surrounded by love, notably at a Memorial Day parade, cheering the marchers and chatting with friends.


[1] https://cac.org/foundational-hope-2021-05-31/ [2]The Four-Way Test is a nonpartisan and nonsectarian ethical guide for Rotarians to use for their personal and professional relationships. The test has been translated into more than 100 languages, and Rotarians recite it at club meetings: Of the things we think, say or do: 1.Is it the TRUTH? 2.Is it FAIR to all concerned? 3.Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? 4.Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned? [3] https://projectcure.org/ [4] [2] Steven Charleston, Ladder to the Light: An Indigenous Elder’s Meditations on Hope and Courage (Broadleaf: 2021), 60–61, 67.

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