Sunday, August 1, 2010

Servanthood

"Service which is rendered without joy,
helps neither the servant or the served.
But all other pleasures and possessions
pale into nothingness before service
which is rendered in a spirit of joy."
Mahandas Ghandi

While I was giving Dad a sponge bath this afternoon, I had two thoughts running through my mind, both rather Biblical which is a little unusual for me. While I consider myself religiously spiritual, and spiritually religious, I'm not much of a student of the Bible. I know the stories we all know. But I don't know the Bible chapter and verse. I think it is a pretty good book, written by people who were certainly "inspired" by a Power greater then themselves. Inerrant? Although far greater minds than mine do, I can't quite buy into that.

So there I am down on my hands and knees washing my dad's legs and feet. My first thought was of "Martha" (sister of Lazarus) who was the worker bee of the two sisters of Bethany. She was the one, like me, who was more comfortable when people came to visit being busy in the kitchen. And, like me, she wasn't always shy about bitching about not getting any help. One of my all time favorite Bible passages is when Jesus says, "Martha, Martha." Can't you just hear his gentle voice comforting and chastising her at the same time? Would you think I'm crazy to say that at times I think I've heard the same voice calling my name. In fact maybe that's what I hear when I jump up out of bed in the wee hours of the morning to find Dad sound asleep. Hmmm.

I also thought about Jesus on the night before he was condemned, how he washed the feet of his disciples. There is something humbling about ministering to others, by doing the "dirty" or not so pretty work. If Jesus was not afraid to get down on his hands and knees, who am I to refuse the job? It's one thing to do it during Easter week, when sentiment is running high. It's another thing all together to get down in the trenches when the job calls for it.

I went to a funeral last week for a women I didn't know very well. She was a dear friend and mentor to my Sweetie. The church was full of people who loved her. In her eulogy the Bishop called her a "servant minister." She had a "quiet soul" and "discerning spirit." I hope when the time comes for someone to describe me, they can/will use the same words.

For that is where my talents lie. I am at my best when I am in service to others. I realize there is a line between serving others and not remembering to care for myself. I know that the boundary line often blurs. Still, I think serving is the spiritual gift God has given me.

How strange to get a true sense of myself when washing my father's feet.

Wishing for you a sense of your true calling,
Merry ME

4 comments:

AkasaWolfSong said...

I love this post Mary...I so believe that we all are here to be 'in service' to others. That is what Love is...in action. Jesus himself showed us that as you've well pointed out.
I have long held the idea that it would be wonderful to gather a group of women for a spiritual drumming and part of that drumming would be to do a 'foot' washing. It is as you say, very humbling.

I too feel best when I am in service to my family and those close to me...the heart knows no boundaries there.

Your father is truly blessed that you are taking care of him in his last days on Mother Earth. In the same breath then you will be richly blessed through it all...as these dear words of yours reveal.

Many, many blessings Mary!!!

Pamela Jones said...

There is something holy about washing the feet of another. There is something enlightening, too, because we learn "at the feet" of the most unlikely teachers.

"Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things."

"Yeah, well when you're hungry later, let me know how that worked for you."

I hear you, sister!

Fire Byrd said...

No don't do feet....too many old people in hospital with vile feet that I had to attend to back in the day. But hands and faces, oh I'll happily massage them. And I just love it when my American friend gives me a manicure. She's the only person, outside of people I've paid to do it, that has done that for me. But then one of the things I'm short of in life is touch by others to me on a daily basis.

I am happy to give though and have the perfect job as a result.
xx

Marilyn said...

Mary, your message gives such a vivid meaning to service. When I was a member of the 7th Day Adventist church, we washed feet on certain days, but I think your experience is so much more meaningful. Almost can't put something like that into words, but you did. Loved it, and love you, friend.
Blessings, Marilyn