“Helping, fixing and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul.”
–Rachel Naomi Remen, MD (https://www.uc.edu/content/dam/uc/honors/docs/communityengagement/HelpingFixingServing.pdf)
It’s 9:15pm Sunday night. Instead of winding down my day, I’m engaging with the thoughts in my head that are spinning around in there following an afternoon and evening of community service. About 20 members and friends of my church gathered at The Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia tonight to make and serve a meal to the families who live there. For those who don’t know, The Ronald McDonald House provides a very low cost ($15 a night) beautiful room and meals to families of children who are undergoing care at local hospitals, namely Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Different groups volunteer to serve dinner every night of the week to the families who live there and more meals are served on weekends. I’ve participated in this event four times in the past year and am always humbled by the ways in which serving others serves me, as well.
As I thoughtfully prepared a quinoa salad that I knew those with dietary restrictions could still eat, I felt healed by the mindfulness that went into that process. As I worked side by side with members of my church, I felt healed by their presence and our common task. As I listened to the stories of families whose children have unimaginable cancers and genetic disorders, I felt healed by the depth of their gratitude for something as simple as a home-cooked meal. As I ate food that I previously wouldn’t have eaten due to my fear of gaining weight, I felt healed by the knowledge that food shared mindfully with others is food for the body AND soul.
Indeed, serving others is “the work of the soul”. As I now try to unwind, I will thank God for the ways in which my parents modeled a life of service, for the opportunity to serve others, and for the nourishment service brings to my soul.
Peace, joy, and health,