Today Thorn Coyle blogs about Service is Power which is something very near and dear to my heart. I’ve considered myself a v. service oriented person and all wink wink Secretary references aside, it can be challenging to explain how and why this is part of my spirituality.
I think service can be a difficult concept to our community because there are obvious services that many of us do not do. Helping at a soup kitchen or a domestic violence helpline, volunteering in Haiti, etc. If you do those things, you are truly an angel. But many of us get too bogged down in our daily lives and it can be challenging to get involved in a larger more global cause. To that I say two things:
1. Think globally, act locally.
2. What do you give a fuck about?
The first one is to indicate that you need to think about all the things you hopefully do for your more immediate family, friends and community. Maybe you don’t volunteer at a shelter, but unfortunately, most of us have known friends who got themselves into a situation they can’t get out of. And sometimes, for some of us, there is a light of some kind that we happen to be in the right place at the right time and the other person is in the right mindframe so that when you say, Honey, this has got to stop. Right now. The other person replies, You’re right. And it’s going to, right now. Maybe you don’t volunteer at a soup kitchen but you take your unemployed friend out for dinner. Or maybe you volunteer your time and energy into your local pagan community and you make the feast or offer to do registeration for a larger pagan event. Think carefully about all the small kindnesses you do in a day – when you listen to a friend cry, when you help a sibling move, when you watch a cousin’s baby for an hour, all of those services big and small that you do. And ask yourself, could I do more? Because . . .you probably could. Make your mom dinner one night, buy your friend her coffee for no reason, watch a coven mate’s kid for two hours so she can sleep, all of those things that we do out of love and out of kindess are some of the best human experiences there are. And if you grit your teeth and do something nice anyway when you don’t feel like it? The Jewish faith calls that a mitzvah and it counts even more. I believe that, I really do.
The second part is what my first year women’s studies class professor very exasperatedly said to us when she had enough of us that day. And I find it guides my life. What do you give a fuck about? What is more important to you than anything? What do you believe in more than anything? What is your driving force? What gets you out of bed in the morning? It forces you to cut through the bullshit and focus on what is really important. You can’t save all the starving orphan nuclear whales in Africa. So what is more important to you than anything? For me it was Hurricane Katrina. So important that I signed up for the Red Cross and was willing to go, even though I was shit scared and didn’t know what to expect. I went to my training, I got all my paperwork done and I was ready to do it. I talked a lot to my exbf who was home from Iraq briefly and I felt stupid about being scared, I wasn’t even going to leave the country. But he said there’s always someone who got there before you, who managed to make an IV out of duct tape and a ziplock bag. That’s okay. You’ll be there when you go. I didn’t get called, but I did fund raise for Katerina. And if abortion became illegal, there are a lot of things I’d be willing to do there. Where will you lay yourself on the line?
Finally, as Pagans and magic users, I think service can be sort of . . .pushed aside. It’s not cool, it’s not cynical, it’s not furthering whatever your Master Plan for World Domination ™ is, it’s not something you can really sneer while doing. We’re all adrift anyway, man. Service forces us to look beyond ourselves. Service forces us to wear our hearts on our sleeves. Service forces us to be sincere. And frankly, as a whole, these are things we are not good at. And we need to be. Service isn’t v. glamorous, it’s generally doing shit work that no one wants to do, but man, it recharges me way more than anything else, way more than ten episodes of Degrassi, way more than Drawing Down, way more than High Priestessing, way more than meditation. I would really honestly and truly rather be washing dishes in the back than leading a rite. Service really and truly is where my heart is, I feel like I am as close as I possibly can be to touching the gods when I am serving others. Honestly, I think at the end of the day, service is what binds kitchen witches together because it tends to be something we all do, no matter if we’re a witch in the woods or a soccer mom with 2.5 children and a white picket fence. What’s more beautiful than that to bind us all together?