How May I Serve You Today?
Article ID: 14880
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 834
Times Read: 2,187
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Author: Deborah Castellano
Posted: January 8th. 2012
Times Viewed: 2,187
I think service can be a difficult concept to our community because there are obvious services that many of us do not do... helping at a soup kitchen or a domestic violence helpline, volunteering in Haiti, etc. We all feel we should be doing these things but most of us don't. And because we keep holding ourselves to standards we may not ever be able to reach (yeah, ask me how becoming a Girl Scout Leader is going) because of our busy lives, we hamstring ourselves from having the opportunity to give small services. If you do big services like I listed above, you are truly an angel. But many of us get too bogged down in our daily lives and it can be challenging to get involved in a larger more global cause. To that I say two things:
1. Think globally; act locally.
2. What do you care about?
The first point is meant to indicate that you need to think about all the things you hopefully do for your more immediate family, friends and community. Maybe you don't volunteer at a shelter, but unfortunately, most of us have known friends who got themselves into a situation they can't get out of. There is a light of some kind that we happen to be in the right place at the right time when your loved one is in the right mind frame so that when you say, “Honey, this has got to stop. Right now”. The reply is, “You're right. And it's going to, right now”.
Maybe you don't volunteer at a soup kitchen but you take your unemployed friend out for dinner or coffee to give them a luxury they can't afford right now. Or maybe you volunteer your time and energy into your local pagan community and you make the feast or offer to do registration for a larger pagan event. I can assure you, feeding and doing dishes for a Pagan event is a service. Anything that requires your time in planning meetings and needing consensus definitely counts as a service.
Think carefully about all the small kindnesses you do in a day - when you listen to a friend cry, when you help a sibling move, when you watch a cousin's baby for an hour, all of those services big and small that you do. And ask yourself, could I do more? Because . . .you probably could. Make your mom dinner one night, buy your friend her coffee for no reason, watch a coven mate's kid for two hours so she can sleep, drive a friend to run errands, walk a neighbor's dog, bake cookies for your office make, be patient when people need a listening ear. All of those things that we do out of love and out of kindness are some of the best human experiences there are. And if you grit your teeth and do something nice anyway when you don't feel like it…? The Jewish faith calls that a ‘mitzvah’ and it counts even more. I believe that it does; I really do.
The second point is a slightly differently worded version of what my first year women's studies class professor very exasperatedly said to us when she had enough of us that day. And I find it guides my life. What do you care about? Where is your passion? What is more important to you than anything? What do you believe in more than anything? What is your driving force? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
It forces you to cut through the layers of crap and get a sharp focus on what you're passionate about. You can't save all the starving orphan nuclear whales in Africa. So what is more important to you than anything? For me, it was Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans always held a very special place in my heart for a lot of reasons and I was extremely freaked out about all the aftermath of the hurricane. I cared enough that I signed up for the Red Cross and was willing to go, even though I was incredibly scared and didn't know what to expect. Even though it made my anxiety disorder go crazy.
I went to my training. I got all my paperwork done and I was ready to do it. I talked a lot to my ex who was home from Iraq briefly, even though I felt stupid about being scared, I wasn't even going to leave the country. But he said there's always someone who got there before you, who managed to make an IV out of duct tape and a Ziploc bag. That's okay. You'll be there when you go. I didn't get called, but I have fund raising efforts for Katrina. If women's healthcare services were to change in my area, there's a lot of things I'd be willing to sacrifice (including possibly going to jail) to make sure that women's health care services remained affordable, accessible and safe.
Finally, as Pagans and magic users, I think service can be sort of . . .pushed aside. It's not cool. It’s not cynical. It’s not furthering whatever your Master Plan for World Domination (tm) is. It’s not something you can really sneer while doing. Service forces us to look beyond ourselves. it forces us to wear our hearts on our sleeves. Service forces us to be sincere. And frankly, as a whole, these are things we are not good at. I know especially as a young Pagan in my twenties I was way more concerned with who was, ahem, “dating” whom and what to wear to the Goth club and how many shots I could put down my throat and dealing with early twenties drama that most of us were or are enmeshed in.
But we need that sincerity. We need to know what it feels like when your heart opens like a lotus blossom and how scary, real and vulnerable that feels. Service isn't very glamorous. It’s generally doing work that no one wants to do. But man, it recharges me way more than anything else. Way more than ten episodes of Degrassi, way more than Drawing Down, way more than High Priestessing, way more than meditation. I would really honestly and truly rather be washing dishes in the back than leading a rite. Service really and truly is where my heart is. I feel like I am as close as I possibly can be to touching the gods when I am serving others.
Honestly, I think at the end of the day, service is what binds hearth witches together because it tends to be something we all do. It doesn't matter if we're a witch in the woods or a soccer mom with 2.5 children and a white picket fence or something in between. And what's more beautiful than wearing our hearts on our sleeves to bind us all together?
Copyright: Copyright by Deborah Castellano 2011
Location: , New Jersey
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Bio: Deborah blogs regularly over at Charmed, I'm Sure: A Finishing School for Dropout Dilettantes Discussing Charms, Hexes, Housewifery, Hearth Witchery and Deportment
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