to be of service

On a whim, I joined Olivia at Rockport Unitarian’s service on Sunday. I had no idea the beauty in store.

Olivia

I’d already been thinking about what it means to give. Early in the week I listened and re-listened to this beautiful On Being interview with Adam Grant. Reading Give or Take was paradigm-shifting for me two years ago, and this interview further expanded my definition of generosity.

At Rockport UU, Vietnam vet Ed Kaznocha offered his reflections on service, urging us to regard our military service people in accordance with their courage rather than our political views. I had to transcribe this quote word for word: “If a veteran starts telling you a story about their time in service, please let them finish.”

Ed Kaznocha

Reverend Susan Moran turned to Martin Luther King Jr.’s words on service: “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

She also urged us not to bow to the “tyranny of nice;” beware of serving from a place of fear and anxiety rather than an abundant heart. She cited the classic Biblical tale of Mary and Martha. Sometimes “the better part” is to hunker down and receive rather than working for the benefit of others.

Susan’s words really struck home. Over the spring and summer months I felt of little use to anyone. I’d read stories of good people serving worthwhile causes, and I’d feel overwhelmed. We first-world folk are awfully susceptible to guilt and fear, aren’t we? Like, if I’m not saving the planet, what good am I?

I’m grateful to have come through a shadow season and to again feel the grace in my heart; the love generating my soul. But I am more aware than ever that the dark, fallow seasons are essential to the light. Weary veterans still serve as they work through their wounds. Exhausted police officers serve as they take time to rest and play.

That goes for the rest of us, too.