Friday, November 28, 2008

We Live Therefore We Serve

"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." Shirley Chisholm

Why am I here? Why do I live in this place at this time? What is the purpose of my life? Of all life? What will happen after I die? Does God exist?

These are BIG questions. They occur to all of us as we live and grow and look toward our inevitable death. Of course, it is easy to ignore these BIG questions and allow ourselves to get buried in the minutiae of our lives, all the SMALL details comprised of living on this planet. We can get tunnel vision as we go about our daily lives and pay attention only to what needs to be done on any given day: going to work, paying bills, making dinner, parenting, watching TV, going to sleep at the end of the day, only to wake up and immerse ourselves in the minutiae once again. Still, when we are alone in the car or the shower, or in the space between waking and sleep, the BIG questions resurface: Why am I here? What is the purpose of my life? What happens after death?

It is all this un-knowing, these Mysteries that keep philosophers and religious thinkers busy coming up with new theories and new religious sects. Soon these BIG thinkers start to think they have solved the Mystery of Life and that they have discovered the RIGHT way. "Follow me," they say. "I know the answers. I will save you from all doubt, all uncertainty. I will show you the Way."

Doesn't it seem just a bit too easy? In all this vast Universe, amid all the other uncountable Universes, how can one man or woman on this tiny blue-green planet have all the answers? How can one religion be RIGHT and another WRONG? How can God choose one people and turn His/Her back on another? If God is LOVE, how can God's rule include punishment and fear of damnation?

So, what is one small person to do? How are we supposed to grapple with these BIG questions all on our own? It is easier to bury ourselves in the minutiae of our lives and hope that the BIG questions will take care of themselves, or let whatever religion we belong to provide the answers. Which brings me back to the title of this essay: We live therefore we serve.

My answer to all the BIG questions for which I have no answer: offer my life up in service to the greater good, see every action as an offering of love, keep away from self pity and fear. When self-pity and fear rear their heads, find a way to offer up even those feelings as a gift to the great Mystery which surrounds our lives and moves with us through our days and nights, whether we acknowledge it or not.

It is easy to feel powerless and helpless, to feel no responsibility for all the evil and violence and poverty in the world. After all, what can one person do? If each and every one of us offered our life as a daily gift to the Mystery of Life, all the evil and violence and poverty would vanish from the Earth. Of course, we have no power over those who feel invested in keeping things as they are, but this "fact" does not absolve us from offering our life as an example of love and service. We live therefore we serve.

"Any human who feels that he or she is not "good enough" to cultivate peace and generosity is overlooking the wondrous gift of life. You live, therefore you are good enough." Dhyani Ywahoo