The phone rings and I hesitate as caller ID flashes into view. I don’t have to press ‘answer’. I already know the question. My eyes wander back to the screen where the half-written email waits patiently for the return of my attention. Reaching for the phone now. “This isn’t a convenient time,” I thought. “Say, no. You have to say no.”

There’s a laundry hamper brimming with active wear – after all we are busy people. And our fridge is stocked well for a feast, as long as it’s made completely of condiments. I desperately need to go shopping. The dentist appointment tomorrow and the hair appointment the day after that.

The phone has now rung twice.

Oh shoot! I promised to babysit all day Thursday. And when will I find time to write get well cards? My thoughts like springs, bouncing from cell to cell, gathering reason.

The phone has now rung three times.

My sporadic freelance editing job lays on my desk, thesaurus and grammar guide wide open, purple ink pen at the ready. This job I prayed for, and now time escapes as though the Earth has cracked and minutes are slipping through.

The request just inside the ringing phone is not convenient. But I answer.

The voice on the other side is weak and tearful. “I’m having a hard day,” she says. “Would you be able to take me to lunch soon?” I think, but then do not say, what I’m thinking. I already know the right answer. “Could I take you to lunch tomorrow? I can pick you up right after my dentist appointment.” Doing the next right thing colors outside the lines of convenience.

Retirement has turned the virtues of a non-scheduled life into a teeter totter of chaotic commitments. The things that are convenient rarely align with those of highest value. Instead of clambering to meet a deadline, I took my friend to lunch and afterward we took a long, quiet drive over miles of country roads, revisiting the area where she once lived, married, and raised her children for over 90 years.

Love isn’t a matter of convenience, it’s a matter of compassion.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145.8

This post is a submission for Five Minute Friday where, each Friday, we are challenged to write for 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. If you are a writer and need inspiration and encouragement to write, please join us at FiveMinuteFriday. fiveminutefriday.com


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Jane Anderson
JANE’s professional experience is scattered across industries from financial services and insurance to engineering and manufacturing. Jane sees her background in writing and editing website content as the foundation to her current love of social media. Being an avid reader, meticulous note taker and lifelong learner has fostered her natural pursuit of sharing her world through writing. Reading books and summarizing content started as a hobby and has since grown to be a major part of her vocational experience. Jane says, “Authors pour their heart and soul into writing their book. When I write a review, it’s with intent to celebrate the book and promote the author.” Jane claims to be 'the best follower you'll ever want to meet' and has been repeatedly called servant leader, eternal cheerleader, social media evangelist, and inspirational go-to person.
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Lynn Forrester-Pitocco

Jane, Compassion trumps in many ways and sometimes just dropping what we are doing for the sake of another is so rewarding in my eyes. Good article

Johnny Johnston

This is fantastic! Love the way you pull the reader through the story and then BAM, you’re a kind soul that makes it happen. Really enjoyed this because in my retirement, while my wife still works I’ve become a recluse of sorts, only painting, and writing, staying in our apartment, getting outside only to run a few errands, then back home again. A+ on this piece…. Thank you

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson

Johnny, I can tell you really read my article. Thank you so much for your kind words. When I was working full-time I always tried to be helpful to people. So many times in my career I asked for help with things and was told “I don’t have time.” Or “I can help you next week” which didn’t help. It was my aim to always say yes, to requests for help as often as possible. It’s just my way. Being retired, I stay busy so as not to become a recluse (I fear going downhill mentally). And staying busy also means someone gets to feel valued somewhere along the way.

Jonathan Solomon

Jane, I loved the way you wove intricate emotions that confront us every single day, and show the compassionate characteristic of your soul.

It is so true that Compassion requires action. It is not a skill you can learn simply by watching. Your inner being had the capacity to understand the emotional state of your “caller”, and you became an active participant in her ‘comfort.’

Dalai Lama once said, “Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion.”

It would do us all good to embrace compassion in our lives and pass this virtue onto others.

Dee Coxon

Hi Jayne I felt sure your story was going to be about the art of saying no and how we “homepreneurs” are constantly hijacked by family and friends who at times don’t see our work as important because we are ” at home”. How lovely that in the end you did what many of us do which is to respond with compassion putting ourselves, our needs, the laundry, the dentist and the shopping last. How blessed she is to have a friend like you.