03 September 2007

The Blessings of Service

I was feeling down last week because we got some bad news about my dad's health. I spent a couple of days down in the dumps and then tried to rouse myself.

A Friend was moving to Pennsylvania. She asked me if I'd take her three younger children for an afternoon so she could pack in peace. The three children ended up spending two days with us. We had a great time: swimming, playing games, chatting, and just plain playing. I was far too busy to feel sorry for myself. The needs of the seven children under my care grounded me and cheered me. When the mother thanked me, I returned her thanks. The opportunity to care for her children lifted me and blessed me.

Some years ago, the following message wove in and out of my worship during Meeting:

Every request is a gift.

At the time, I still had two quite young children who made frequent requests of me. It was not always possible to see their requests as opportunities, let alone gifts. The message served as a reminder that it was a gift to be asked to change diapers, pour juice, fix toast, listen to problems, admire creations, and clean the paint off the floor. It reminded me not to rush through the small services I provided, but instead to slow down and connect with the child as I did my job.

In Meeting this First Day, I looked around at all the dear Friends whose lives have been filled with acts of service. I thought that each of them must know the joy that comes from doing simple services for others. I wondered whether they sought opportunities for service in order to experience the joy I was feeling. I felt blessed to be sitting in the circle with them.

I had been feeling overwhelmed. How is it that, by almost doubling my burden, I could have my burden lifted from me? It's a small miracle. For a moment, I thought I could see some of what lies behind the joyful, compassionate eyes of our Meeting elders. They know this secret! They know that service lightens our hearts and makes it easier to bear our burdens. They know that walking through life with an open heart calls blessings forth.