We lived on Shady Lane, and the shade was profound. I was making it through the days as best I could but truth be told I was struggling.
I needed light desperately. Sunlight.
So, I dressed my tired body and trudged to Tree Hill down the street and bordering the pond. The kids were racing ahead, and I thought about warning them that I wasn’t going to last long, so hurry up and get done with this joyful experience you’re convinced I’m going to have. But I didn’t.
We reached the top of the path and came out of the woods onto a bare hill drenched in warming sunlight. I sat down and nearly cried. I sat and sat and sat and dreaded going home to the darkness. I spent a lot of time at Tree Hill while we lived on Shady Lane, needless to say.
You might think that this post is about getting outside and basking in the sun, collecting your vitamin D for the day.
It’s about being the sun for someone else.
Being On Edge
Let me share with you how I felt the other day in order to explain it better.
I was on edge. The edge. All I could focus on was the sleep I wasn’t getting and I was not a happy camper.
What do you do when you feel like that?
I considered the typical options, but nothing appealed to me. I was sinking deeper into the mire of misery…in the breeding ground of boredom…that was being fueled by extreme fatigue.
“Call Lois.” That was a strange and unexpected thought. It bordered on annoying because all I really wanted to do was sleep.
Lois is in her late eighties, early nineties. I haven’t seen her for a while. I’d thought of her at least three times in two days. But I had no reason to call her. We used to visit a lot and talk about genealogy and her dogs.
So I picked up the phone and called her. Her phone was disconnected. So, I called her daughter. Her phone was disconnected, too. All of a sudden I was concerned about Lois and her family. Where were they? How was she? Was there something they might need?
I reflected for a second on what had happened and giggled. I hadn’t even done anything more than start thinking about someone else and I’d started to feel better.
I’d sort of been like the sun.
The energy inside of me was released outward to touch someone else’s life and suddenly, somehow, I was brighter.
Showing up in life and giving what we can in the moments that we share makes us all a part of life’s warming rays for the people who show up at the same time. We choose whether or not to give our light or to withhold it.
I get it. Sometimes we’re tired. But maybe we’re not so much physically tired but emotionally fatigued because we haven’t been able to really connect with other people in meaningful ways.
Maybe we expect too much return on our investment of time and energy.
Maybe we are thinking “what’s in it for me?”
It’s About Service
There are some things I know about service:
- A need is a need, and others’ needs come at inconvenient times.
- People don’t wake up (typically) and plan to have an accident, lose their job, or have their house burn down, or struggle with depression, etc.
- When we are the poorest we’ve ever been, a neighbor, a friend, or a stranger’s lack will remind us that we still have something to give.
- The need for service doesn’t sleep. It doesn’t wait for us to feel refreshed and chipper. We are needed now. Sleep is for later.
- Service blesses us more than the served if we do it like the sun shines its rays- with no expectation of thanks.
- There will always be someone else that we can think of who is more able than we are at any given moment or in any situation who could do what is needed better. But they might think of someone else, too. There are no guarantees that the car behind us will stop to give aid to the person we just passed. We can at least stop to ask how we can help. Right?
- There is no better short-cut to joy than thinking about how we can help someone else whether it be a smile, a hug, a “thank you”, an anonymous donation, or random kindness like shoveling their snowbound walkway.
I’ll leave you with a favorite quote of mine along with the hope for you to find the happiness that serving others brings.
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.”
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