Nestled in a book I had been reading was this:
Japanese Tea Ceremony: a way of honoring oneself by putting another’s needs first, the joy that could be found in intimate service. [This was a] conversation [my husband and I’d] had one night on the way home from a movie. I remembered how that night he’d put toothpaste on my brush before his own, then bowed. I’d smiled, but I’d understood too that such small gifts were one seed that blossomed in two hearts.
– Elizabeth Berg, The Year of Pleasures
I stopped and thought for a moment.
I need to do more of this.
I have a longing in my heart to be of service to others, but when I daydream about the service I want to give, it tends to be large-scale and quixotic.
I want to help hungry people on the street.
I want to hug homeless children and pass love straight from my full, steady heart into their famished, skittery ones.
I want to hold a desperate mother’s hand and transfer a tiny bit of solace through the skin of our fingers.
I want to spark a fire of hope in the hopeless.
But as of this moment, I have yet to find the path to this service.
The reason is several fold, but I know it is a large part fear of the unknown.
Right now, I’m just trusting that I’ll get there by the route that was intended for me. My way will find me.
When I read this bit in the book though, I stopped for a moment and reread it.
Why does service need to be capacious and earth-shattering?
The spirit of service starts small.
It starts at home.
It starts with those with whom we are closest.
To sacrifice a tiny bit of our own desire for the happiness of our spouse, our son or daughter, our mother, father, brother, sister – these small acts of kindness plant seeds in the individual hearts of our family members, but also in the heart of our family as a unit.
So I will try.
I will strive to build a family with a large, thumping heart of service.
And we will start by serving each other.
Then we’ll serve friends and neighbors.
Then we’ll serve strangers.
Then, when the timing is right, it will happen; we will be holding hands with a fellow human being who needs our service like he needs air.
The gift of our sacrifice will blossom in the hearts of us all, and we won’t be able to tell who received the greater gift.
Photo Credit: Original Tea Ceremony Image found here.