Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"service"

I think it was during an AIDS Walk in 9th grade, that I started becoming more "service" minded and wanted to do more community service or philanthropic work because I loved how I felt after that. Upon learning more about the Christian practice, I had similar sentiments after doing "mission work"--as I was "serving" those that had were "less fortunate." Or then in my latter part of my college years and immediately after, I shifted my language to "development"--I was doing "development" work. 

But what did all my feelings and words mean?

Perhaps my "high" came from receiving a sense of pride at the expense of deeming myself better than those I was serving. After all,  I was so quick to name people "less fortunate" and quick to say that I knew ways I could brilliantly serve and develop others.

It's almost more than 10 years since my first "service" high and currently I work at a non-profit called Youth SERVICE America. 

I look back at many of those experiences with a mix of feelings of shame, angst, naivete, and honesty...a lot of honesty.

About 3 weeks ago, I started  running with a group called Back on My Feet. It is a non-profit that works to "create independence and self-sufficiency withing the homeless and other undeserved populations by engaging them in running as a means to build confidence, strength, and self-esteem. The organization seeks to  make a community that embraces equality, respect, discipline, teamwork, and leadership--while also focusing on the desire all humans have to be feel recognized, appreciated, and valued." 

It has been some years since I have volunteered in any consistent capacity and the beautiful thing about volunteering this time, is the since of equality that is brought to the table. Where I can begin to understand bit about mutuality in service rather than serving from a place of power or choice. I am not a natural born runner. I do not run every morning at 5:45 AM at any merit-able pace. And although our "socioeconomic fortune" may appear differently--when we run together we serve each other.
We develop each other. 
We strengthen each other. 

The incredible Jean Vanier and creator of the L'Arche communities, often says...

"We all know well that we can do things for others and in the process crush them, making them feel that they are incapable of doing things by themselves. To love someone is to reveal to them their capacities for life, the light that is shining in them."

May we live in a way that is life giving to others as well as have the humility to have life breathed into our own beings. 

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