All too often we think of serving or helping others, we think about grand gestures. But they needn’t be, a smile a pat on the back, a phone call to a friend that is hurting are all gestures that say, “I am here for you,” and so often that is all that is needed. Edith Wharton wrote, “there are two ways of spreading the light, to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
In the book, How Can I Help, Ram Dass and Paul Gorman detail a story about a woman who flies to see her dying father in a hospital. He is so ill she doesn’t recognize him and turns to leave the room. Realizing it is her father she remembers Mother Teresa’s words, “Christ in all his distressing disguises.” This causes her to see him as more than her father but as a child of God, to realize they both shared a common identity. She was then able to care for him in total peace.
The late congresswoman Shirley Chisholm once said, “Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.” We belong to one another. If we aren’t willing to help and serve one another what hope is there for our planet? As Dass and Gorman remind us, “At times helping happens simply in the way of things. Someone slips your arm goes out….It all seems natural. You live you help.”