Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Power of Service

There appears to be a whole world of people who find their meaning through service more than through personal achievement. This heartens me greatly, because the power of service seems to be losing its hold on the modern heart and imagination.

I can think of no value more needed in modern society than a belief in service to others. It is love made manifest, and virtue softly spoken.

There is nothing profound about this observation; it is simply a reminder of what we all know: car axles and medical bills are important, but they are not essential. What is essential is the human touch that we are able to share with our fellow travelers in our passage through life.

So join me today and perform some small act of service. The axle will get fixed, the heating system will get repaired, the bill will get paid, and the shelf will get replaced. In each instance there will be some measure of cursing, wailing, checking of account balances, and gnashing of teeth. But in the end, all will get resolved.
What I have to remember — what we all have to remember — is that problems end, but kindness carries forward. It spreads and grows and fills in the spaces around the hard-edged occurrences of the day.

Ultimately it is this simple: the person to whom I am kind — the person I serve — has his or her bad axle, unfair medical bill, broken heating system, or damaged shelf, too. And he or she may have a lot worse. My small act of service or kindness may be the best moment in that person’s day.

Such a possibility is good enough in our ordinary lives.