Monday, September 7, 2009

On Service

My head is simply buzzing. I just came from a meeting with Women in Need to talk about running Nurturing Narratives in their shelter system. We absolutely hit it off and we are going to start sometime in late September. I couldn't be more thrilled about bringing the program to this innovative, progressive and stunningly compassionate organization. On my walk home I was thinking a great deal about service. I started this program in a time in my life that was quite challenging. Caught up in my own story I had forgotten about the primary goal of the human experience: the requirement to serve. I don't mean everyone has to move to Africa to help orphans (although I greatly admire and respect those who do :) What I'm talking about is living life through the lens of service.

We can serve daily. In the smile we give others on the street. In the moment in which we let a mother and her young children go in front of us at the supermarket check-out. In the way in which we greet those we love and in the kindness we show those who may not give us the same respect. We can constantly serve and in giving to others, we get back ten-fold.

I see with my children that the simplest actions make a world of a difference. On Friday I had a Nurturing Narratives session with two children that reminded me of the importance of kindness as service. We were in the midst of creating some lovely illustrations to go along with a story we had written about a bumblebee and a swan when one child said, "I don't know how to draw a bumblebee." I was about to jump in and offer some suggestions when the other child volunteered. "I'll help you," she said, "See? You have to pick the yellow crayon and then look at the bee. It has wings and black spots, just like this." They proceeded to chat for a few moments as they colored together and when they produced their picture a minute or so later I was, of course, unbelievably pleased. But it was the next exchange that really got me. "Did you know I was such a good drawer?" The child asked her friend whom she had just helped. "I thought maybe," he responded, "But you're really good." Then the little girl looked at her friend and said matter- of -factly, "I'm glad you told me," and they went on to do the next picture.

"I'm glad you told me." So simple, so important. That validation meant so much to this little girl and it made me think of the times I don't speak up that I should. When it really wouldn't be too difficult to simply say, "thank you," or "I love you," or "I'm sorry."

A few months ago I began to wake up and repeat this mantra: show me how I can be of service. Each day brings new challenges and, yes, sometimes finding the courage and compassion to smile at the friend who has hurt you or to not get frustrated at the telemarketer on the phone is difficult. But when we find the patience to give to others what we want in return we not only illicit similar responses back but we also pour kindness into the world.

The simplest actions can make a world of difference to someone in pain. I hope I might touch just a few children with the program and help them to see that the world is a far more compassionate place than they may think is the case.

Also, please check out Women in Need's website. They are an amazing organization doing truly wonderful things for families in the city.

Happy end of summer!

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