Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas is giving, serving and loving

Dale Evans, aka singer, actress and songwriter Frances Octavia Smith, aptly said, "Every time we give, every time we love, it's Christmas." Coincidentally I found the book, "The Power of Serving Others," by Gary Morsch and Dean Nelson.

From their experience as relief worker and physician, the authors concluded that:

1. Everyone has something to give.

2. Most people are willing to give when they see the need and have the opportunity.

3. Everyone can do something for someone right now.

University scientists who study the brain are discovering that serving other is as much as a part of our genetic code as self-interest is. As a medical doctor, I have seen this firsthand. Kristen Monroe, a professor of political psychology at the University of California-Irvine, says that people act with altruism, a devotion to the welfare of others, when they see their common humanity. When we see others as human beings, their needs become real to us, and we respond.

Then Vice President Al Gore, said, "Volunteerism is good for the soul, and it's good for the country." While the scientific evidence shows we are wired toward altruism, there is still a choice involved. The beauty of the choice is that, when we choose to serve others, something wonderful happens.

How do we turn on the magic of giving, serving? The authors suggest that we simply "get in the boat." It is not about waiting for a disaster to hit. It's what you can do for the widow next door or the single parent on your street. It involves an awareness and lifestyle shift that occurs when you simply look at what is within your reach and start where you are. Another way is to "get over yourself." Serving others is not about how much I know, how many degrees I've earned, or what my credentials are. It is about attitude and availability to do whatever is needed—with love. "Look in your hand" is yet another way of serving—looking at others as people who could use a hand. It's about looking at our hands and realizing that they already contain what others need. Mother Theresa's own words: "We can do no great things, only small things with great love. "Think small" when serving others. Sometimes people don't consider serving another person because the problems of the world seem too big. What's one act of service going to change? Every thing! We don't live each day in macro systems. We live in micro systems. Frame by frame. Moment by moment.

Another way of serving is simply "be there." The authors quote Anne Lamott's Travelling Mercies,

When all is said and done, all you can do is to show up for someone in crisis, which seems so inadequate. But then when you do, it can radically change every thing. Your there-ness, your stepping into a line of vision, can be life giving, because often every one else is in hiding. So you come to keep them company when it feels like the whole world is falling apart, and your being there says that just for this moment, this one tiny piece of the world is OK, or at least better.

It is not always possible, or even necessary, to cross major cultural or physical barriers to serve others. Sometimes the people are right next to us and need something very small. Sometimes all they need is for us to be present with them—simply be there.

Finally, serve others by "loving anyway" and "pulling out the arrow."

By pulling out the arrow, by serving others, by loving others, we provide apiece of life's puzzle that every one is searching for. We help someone and discover there is power in doing so—power to live as we were meant to live. Loving enemies, or loving and acting despite the circumstances, involves a decision our part. But everything is too difficult if we only think about doing it. Things become simpler when we decide to try something, and then actually try it. We can start where we are.

There. You don't need to wipe clean your savings to give, to love, to serve and to celebrate Christmas. Simply give and love and celebrate!

Please join me in praying for my friends Marivic Vergel-Roldan, Dante Vinluan and Diana Ladaw-Sales who will undergo kidney transplant that they too will have many more merry Christmases with their respective family.


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