Just Be

I recently returned from a trip to Africa where I had the opportunity to serve alongside a group of Habitat for Humanity volunteers and several Kenyan families.  I find that each time I have an experience like this, I walk away with life lessons that I might have missed had I not stuck my neck out of my shell for a bit.

Lesson one:  Each morning we had group reflection time before we headed out to the build site; this is an excerpt from the piece “In the Service of Life” by Rachel Remen, MD; shared by one of our team members.

The real question is not how can I help? But, how can I serve? Serving is different from helping. Helping is based on inequality; it is not a relationship between equals. When you help you use your own strength to help those of lesser strength. People feel this inequality. When I help I am very aware of my own strength. But we don’t serve with our strength, we serve with ourselves. We draw from all of our experiences. Our limitations serve, our wounds serve, even our darkness can serve. The wholeness in us serves the wholeness in others and the wholeness in life. The wholeness in you is the same as the wholeness in me. Service is a relationship between equals.

This idea made me realize I had been blessed by this family; blessed they allowed me to have this life changing experience, blessed they welcomed me into their home and into their family.  Blessed by the food they cooked for me, blessed by the willingness of them to share their very lives with me.  Because I served, I came away blessed beyond my wildest imagination.  Blessed to be a blessing.

Lesson two:  Food in many places in this world is simply nutrition, fuel for the body to make it through the day. Food for me and many of us in the U.S. has become entertainment.

Lesson three:  We have forgotten how to Just Be.  From the day most of us were born, we have been connected, entertained, busy.  Many of us have become semi-permanently attached to some form of electronica 24/7.  The people in Kenya still know how to Just Be.  Even the children.  Jesus knew how to Just Be, in fact, we find in the bible that he often made special time to Just Be.  When is the last time you sat on your deck or in a chair with no music, no TV, no outside stimulus at all and Just Were?  This is the lesson that stays with me the most; that I must not forget, that I must find time to Just Be.

Mary McManigle


1 comment (Add your own)

1. Dmitry wrote:
Nataly - I stumbled onto your page on a ptuiacrlarly slow day at work and have now been on for the last half (okay maybe whole) hour just looking at your incredible (INCREDIBLE) photographs. This post though, made me stop and do whatever I could to keep from crying in the middle of the office. I lost my mother just 2 years ago to Glioblastoma. During her short 3 month battle, I remember desperately searching for stories of survivors of this disease, people that have beaten the (very grim) odds to offer a bit of comfort, but rarely found anything. Until now and even though it's after the fact, coming across Doug's story & photographs makes me feel so hopeful for him, for his family. There ARE survivors to celebrate! Thank you for capturing this story. The photos of him with his wife and daughter just warm my heart.

Thu, April 11, 2013 @ 3:58 AM

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