“There’s no greater purpose
than service to others.”
~ Socrates, the Peaceful Warrior movie
“There’s no greater purpose
I've been giving the topic of Service a lot of thought lately. At the Unitarian Universalist church that I attend in West Seattle, we have a unison affirmation each week that says in part "And service is [this congregation's] prayer." So what exactly is "service"? The first definition at Dictionary.com is "an act of helpful activity; help; aid: to do someone a service."
I think we often focus on the fact that being of service to others is simply a benefit to the others, and not to the person performing the service. But I think that if the service is genuinely given/performed from the heart, it can be so incredibly beneficial for the person doing the serving as well.
When I originally gave thought to Service in my own life, I thought about what we often call service industries - jobs where we serve others. One of the reasons that I enjoy my work through the Butterfly Balance Energy Healing Center and Health Kinesiology is that I love working with people to help them to improve their life. The gift of doing that work is reflected in a focus and peace I had never found in another job before.
Just over a year ago I spent some wonderful retreat time working with a dear friend, Daria Boissonnas, who is the director for the Global Institute for Awakening (which I highly recommend). Daria is a gifted healer who told me about the Peaceful Warrior film, which I'd never seen before. The quote that I started this post out with was one that she shared with me, and it has stayed with me ever since.
Daria helped me to reframe the idea of being in service and being a healer. Why could my work in a law firm not be a work of service? There are days when it is difficult because I'll be typing all day long, hand in the work, and the attorney will delete half of it and start over again. It felt like such a waste of time to me, and I pretty much felt rejected and undervalued, as if my time was worthless enough to just delete it. But Daria helped me to reframe it in a different way: that I am being asked to do a certain task as a service to the attorney, and what I have done helps him to the next level of doing his own job - and helps him to think clearer about his intention. So I am serving him and helping him, and to look at it this way made it feel more valuable to me, and less irritating.
Even something as simple as holding a door for someone can be an act of Service. All my life I have held doors open for the person behind me. And I've realized that a great majority of those people don't say thank you, they just take the door, or they sometimes expect me to hold it open for them. Being a native New Yorker, I can have a sarcastic streak at times, and if someone didn't say thank you, I'd no doubt say something snarky like "you're welcome" in an annoyed tone. But why? Did I hold the door open just because I wanted a pat on the back? "Good job, Sue - you should be rewarded for your good deed?" Well, no . . . that wasn't my motivation. Shouldn't service be because you want to serve, not to get something back or having an ulterior motive? Shouldn't the motivation BE the service itself, doing something that you think is the right thing to do?
Today I held the door open for still another person who did not acknowledge it. I smiled anyway and knew that all was right in the world at that moment.
How do YOU incorporate Service into your life? How does it make you feel?