Monday, August 31, 2009

Stops at the Service Station

Day 8**Work and Love

“Work without love is slavery.”

--Mother Teresa--

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stops at the Service Station

Day 7**Sunday Services

My nephew, Brian sent me some notable thoughts about service, and I thought Sunday would be a lovely day to share them as they're taken from the Christian New Testament.

In the book of John, chapter thirteen, we find a tender story of the Savior and his disciples. Jesus knows that his ministry is about to end and he desires to impress on his followers one of the principle doctrines of the kingdom--service. He therefore instructs each of his disciples, in turn, to sit and allow him to wash their feet.

Feet washing in ancient times was done as a sign of respect. The guest's sandals were removed and the dirty feet were washed in a bowl of clean water. The task was usually performed by a member of the family or a servant.

Jesus knelt on the floor and washed not one pair of feet, but twelve. When his disciple, Peter began to protest that the Lord was too grand a person to wash his feet, Jesus gently reminded him, "You call me Master and Lord, and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you."

Peter learned that no one is so grand or important that they are above serving others, and that true service is not done for show or aggrandizement, but is offered in humility and anonymity. It's a good lesson for Sunday...and every day.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Stops at the Service Station

Day 6**Push and Shove

There's a lot of anger and angst in the world. I shiver when I watch the news and see all the violence and hatred. It makes me feel meek and weak. How can I possibly make a difference against all that mess?

Do you feel that way at times?

Mother Teresa said, "If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

We belong to each other in the world, in our communities, and in our families. Most of us can't do anything about bringing peace to the world, but we sure can do something loving in our communities and our families.

So, don't be overwhelmed. Pick out someone in your neighborhood or family who needs some love and attention and make their day better. It may seem like a small thing, but I think any act of service pushes back the ugliness and darkness.

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Stops at the Service Station

Day 5**You and Me

Marian Wright Edelman (1939- ) is an American activist for children. I am simply going to quote her this morning and leave her words for us to ponder

"A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back (and I would add, Mother Teresa)--but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stops at the Service Station

Day 4**Scrooge and Marley

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, is one of my all time favorites. Every Christmas season I look forward to watching the movie (in one of its many forms), or reading the book. It’s a timeless tale of service featuring delightful ghosts, magical travels through time, and, of course, the wonderfully reprehensible character of Ebenezer Scrooge.

One of my favorite scenes is where Scrooge is haunted by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley. The ghoul is weighed down with strong boxes, accounting books, and heavy chains. “These are the chains I forged in life,” Marley informs Scrooge, and warns that the burdens allotted for Ebenezer to wear upon his death are many times more ponderous.

Miserly Mr. Scrooge repudiates Marley’s warning by assuring him that he was always a good man of business.

“Business!” Marley wails. “Mankind was my business! Their common welfare was my business!”

That scene scared the stuffing out of me when I was little. It obviously scared Ebenezer too, for he agrees to allow other spooky spirits to visit him in hopes of undoing his fate.

In the end it all turns out well, with Mr. Scrooge changing from a selfish man, into a man who reaches out to others, and in the reaching discovering an interesting benefit—he’s happy. I love the final scenes where the once grumpy Ebenezer can’t stop giggling for joy as he contemplates different ways to serve others.

I suppose the moral of A Christmas Carol is, if you don’t want your sleep disturbed by a parcel of pesky poltergeist, be on the look-out for a Bob Cratchit or Tiny Tim who might need your generosity.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Stops at the Service Station

Day 3**Mother Teresa and me

Mother Teresa is one of my touchstones, and although she has passed away, I speak of her in the present tense, because her words and her example are living things. Her wise thoughts concerning service will be scattered lovingly throughout these posts, and we can all be assured that this little mighty woman practiced what she preached.

"The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace." Mother Teresa

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stops at the Service Station

Day 2**Cloud and Sunshine

Are you feeling cranky today, tired, unappreciated? Take a deep breath, look around, and find someone to serve. James M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan said, “Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”

Here are the words to a hymn by Lanta Wilson Smith, entitled Scatter Sunshine.

In a world where sorrow ever will be known,
Where are found the needy and the sad and lone,
How much joy and comfort you can all bestow,
If you scatter sunshine everywhere you go.

Slightest actions often meet the sorest needs,
For the world wants daily little kindly deeds.
Oh what care and sorrow you may help remove,
With your songs and courage, sympathy and love.

So, put on your sunscreen and go brighten your day by cheering someone else.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Stops at the Service Station

Day 1**Salamanders and Sea Stars

I imagine that many of you are familiar with the story of the little boy and the sea stars. For those who are not, the premise is that this little boy is walking on an ocean beach and comes upon hundreds of stranded sea stars. Fearing for their lives, he begins to pick them up, and throw them back into the ocean. An older gentleman watches the little boy’s efforts and comments on the futility, suggesting that there are so many stranded sea stars that all his toil really doesn’t matter. The little boy ponders the gentleman’s words for a moment, and then throws another sea star into the water. “Well, it matters to that one,” he responds.

I was four years old when I had a similar experience. My saving efforts involved salamanders. My family lived in Placerville, California and we had a small creek next to our house. After a rain the salamanders would migrate out of the creek and settle onto the rural roadway where they would inevitably be squished by the neighborhood cars. It was traumatic for me, so I’d spend a good deal of my playtime picking up salamanders and throwing them back into the water. My two older sisters complained that it was gross and stupid and pleaded with my mom to make me stop. To her credit, she ignored them, and left me to my salamander saving.

The moral of these stories is that service need not be a huge deal to be significant. Edmund Burke, the eighteenth century Irish statesman and philosopher said, “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

Perhaps today we can go out and do a little something. Save a sea star or a salamander, or lift one person who is sad.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Service Stations

How many of you remember ‘Service Stations’? Raise your hands. Well, I remember them well. They were places where you went to get fuel for your car, and the experience was very different from the one we have today. You didn’t jump out of your vehicle, swipe your credit card, and start pumping the gas yourself…oh, no. You would pull into the station, roll down your window, and wait for the young man to come up and ask what you needed. These champions of service were always dressed in spiffy uniforms, and they not only filled your car’s gas tank with fuel, but checked tire pressure and oil levels, and washed your windows. It was wonderful. As a woman, I always felt pampered. I like being pampered once in awhile. I like it when a man opens a door for me. It’s not that I can’t open a door for myself or pump my own petrol; it just takes away a tiny bit of the burden of having to slog through this world by myself. And, it connects me to someone else. I like that. It feels good to be served and to serve.

Today I’m talking about service for a reason. Beginning tomorrow, and continuing everyday for a month, I will offer anecdotes, quotes, and observations concerning service. I will, at times, be asking for your insight and input. This concentration on service will correspond with a blog tour that’s being done to promote my newest book, The Route; a novel based on my experiences delivering meals-on-wheels to a group of wondrous and wacky older folks, and the life changing lessons I learned from these encounters.

I’m looking forward to the month of daily blogs on service. I have titled the endeavor, Stops at the Service Station, and I hope you’ll join me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Route

My book, The Route, is a fictionalized account of the years I spent delivering meals-on-wheels to a wonderful and wacky group of seniors. Sometimes the loaded food baskets were a bit heavy, many of the home situations were difficult, and some of the older folks were cranky, but I wouldn't have traded the experience for anything. It taught me to value the lives of the seniors, and presented me with the opportunity to evaluate my own choices, and where I was headed on life's highway. It also taught me the great joy of service.

The Buddah instructed that to reach Nirvana (heaven) one had to become selfless and serve others. In fact, the word Nirvana means "the putting out of fire." The fire is the fire of selfishness.

It didn't seem possible that the simple act of dropping off a meal and chatting for five minutes at each stop would make a difference, but it did, especially in my life. The folks I served had made it through a myriad of life experiences and struggles, and most had come through with more resilience, compassion, and humility.

I grew to love Mary, with her down-to-earth sense of humor, Tom with his fascinating stories of growing up in China, and Bea with her quiet kindness. I even grew to love crusty ole Viola with her acerbic tongue and unreasonable demands. Service and love can accomplish amazing things.

I had a great time writing, The Route, because it gave me the opportunity to go back and remember all the wonderful characters and life changing lessons. It was also a way of saying thank you to the amazing older folks who let me share a part of their lives.