“Jan, just let me rub your foot. It will make it not hurt so much,” Mother asked once again.

Sitting with my leg propped up, I was still a bit mystified how despite the fact that the swelling was fast receding and my snakebite was considerably better, from midcalf down it was deeply sore.

Rubbing my hand across my ankle, pressing  a little bit, it was a “good hurt”.

A good hurt is just what it sounds like.

Prone to sore throats as a child, I looked at my Mother, her hands gnarled from ‘joint disease’, and thought about all the times she gently soothed my aching decades ago with hands that were more functional. She had her favorite potions, Vaporub among them.

“We could use that lotion. I think I know who gave that to you!”, she says, here green eyes lively as she considers the mystery.

Someone had left a basket of sweet smelling potions, wrapped among pink tissue on my doorstep. It had caused some interest especially among the men in my family. “It’s someone who has a sense of humor,” I had told them. ‘Twilight Woods’ was the name of the scent.

“You are making too much of that,’ one of them said.

It’s not the first time I thought how little men understand women. They had combed through the tissue, turned the bag upside down, and announced that I had obviously lost the card.

As Mother rubbed, we shared our list of likely suspects. The two we centered on, curiously, had the same given name. That’s a good name to give a child, if you want them to be full of grace, I thought to myself .  There are names one should never give a child and there are names that you should.

Mother asked again and I gave in.

Laying a bath towel across her lap, the trees a canopy, we sat outside. Her wrists are decorated with bangles and her fingers with rings and her fingernails are always painted brightly. Because her joints no longer work as hinges and balls, she uses her hand flat, finger splayed out. She knows instinctively where her daughter hurts the most. She’s generous with the lotion from the gift package and as I lay my head back, I think about my Mother and the heart of a friend.

They are examples of the bounty that no one can ever say they deserve. Ministering with hands, the human touch, is soothing. But when the heart is behind it, when the soul of one seeks to sooth another, when someone goes out of their way to grant a kindness, that’s the magic of love. There is a part of me that thinks maybe I’m just not quite injured enough. I wonder, fret a bit, if I have been as generous. I wonder will I have the heart to see a need, and in the seeing, do.

For moments, I am the small child of other years, my Mother is young and tending her oldest, sharing what she wants me to paint on the walls of my heart.

“Jan, if you don’t feel good, do something for someone. It will make you feel better.”

“To give something, really give someone something will cost you. Otherwise you’ve given something that you never wanted and the gift you gave was worthless.”

“There are times when accepting someone else’s gift is the best gift you can give.”

I look at her face. I suspect she is remembering as well, her own version,  of how her hands have been at the ready to soothe those she has loved through heartache and triumph. Not in remorse. I suspect she is hoping only one thing: that she ministered to those she loved.

“You know I was never worried you were going to die from this, even when they put you in the ambulance.” she says.

I can’t help but laugh.

“This lotion smells good doesn’t it?” and as the smile broadens on her face, she admits the one I too suspect made the delivery.

“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who have been blessed by my Father! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, because I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will say to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you something to eat, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or see you naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? The king will answer them, ‘I tell you with certainty, since you did it for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.’