Who could possibly disagree that helping one another is a good thing to do? Lots of folks try to be of assistance to one another. However, there are both healthy and unhealthy reasons to serve. I can think of four unhealthy reasons to serve and only one that is truly healthy. What do you think?
The first of the unhealthy reasons that comes to mind is based upon a persistent inner voice that is telling us that we should or ought to serve. This represents the collective voices of the sources of infantile authority in our lives. There is nothing evil about these voices. It is just that they come not from within but from the collective voices outside of ourselves. We can do better.
Reason number two is even more inadequate. This is the reason based upon a poor self image. Here we serve others because we think that they are better than ourselves. The truth is that not a single person, not a single creature, is inherently better than us. Different, yes, but we are all God’s creatures, loved equally.
The third reason to serve, equally unhealthy, is that keeping busy, keeping occupied in the outer world, helps us avoid dealing with our own issues. This comes from the old adage, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” It is true, of course, that in the stillness we meet our inner demons. But it is also true that in the stillness we meet the Power that creates and sustains all things. All serious spiritual paths agree on this point.
This is a tricky one to get because our culture is so extraverted. We even worry about someone who is a “loner.” Our attitude is not to just stand there, but to do something! Anything! Someone recently reframed that line of thinking. She said, “Do not just do something, stand there!” This makes little sense to our busy society. One elderly man even bragged to me once that he had never spent a day by himself in his entire life. Hopefully, the readers of this posting have instead enjoyed many days “in the desert”, just listening to the still small voice within.
There is, in the end, only one truly healthy reason to serve: because all is Love and all is Holy. Martin Luther King put it this way: “The person who has been touched by the love of God has no alternative but to serve.” Knowing that we are loved by the Power that moves the stars and that we exist only as a part of the evolutionary flow of Divine Goodness allows our true nature to flow. Service from this part deep within us brings us great joy. It is not an obligation at all but a privilege. Our service to others becomes as natural as a mother picking up her baby. True service is love made visible!
Next posting: Our Common Ground
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