Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Service Analysis 3
Service is not a simple thing. Service takes a lot from a person, and a person must be willing to give in order to have a complete service experience. When doing service one cannot be like Fortunado in "Cask of Amontillado" and let one's ego get in the way of their work. One must not be restricted by oneself; one must get back to basics like the great-great-grandfather in Thomas Lynch's "Liberty". One must also pick their battles when doing service like in Ciardi's "Suburban". When doing service it is best to go with the flow, and focus on the service not the self doing the service.
In high school I did service at a local elementary school; I volunteered with girls my age and while we taught the younger kids we were put into a position of authority. We all started deciding that we knew what was best for the group, and started becoming bossy-pants. It got to the point where we would even say snippy things in front of the kids. Of course, the kids did not notice, but the adults did. Like Fortunado we let our egos get the best of us. We did not think about any of the trouble we could get ourselves into and we disregarded others, and got blind sided when we were put in check by the people who actually had authority. I find it very important that while doing service to focus on my service and those I am working with. When I get too caught up in my position I lose sight of my work and not only the people I'm serving suffer, but I also suffer.
Over the summer I volunteered at a family retreat center. It was in New Jersey, far away from home, and one of the rules was no phones for the volunteers. At first I dreaded this, thinking it would be "the worst week of my life" because I would not be able to communicate with anyone from home. However after a few days I started to feel refreshed; I started to feel more in touch with myself, the retreatants, and God. I think like in "Liberty" I needed to get away from suburbia and the typical life I led. I needed to get back to basics and to get in tune with myself and nature; I needed to grow real bonds with people, not the white-picket fence bonds. When doing any type of service I think it's very important to pay attention to what we're doing, to leave home behind, and to discover the freedom and liberty that service can give.
I recall one time I was working at a soon-to-be meal program site we all got to choose what position we had. Some people got to jackhammer, some got to pick up trash, and others built fences. Everyone, and I mean everyone wanted to do the jackhammer, but obviously there was other work to be done. So instead of complaining and fighting I decided to do whatever they told me, and I ended up on trash duty. It turns out a few other of my close friends were on trash duty too, and we ended up making it really fun. If I had complained and forced my way I don't know what would have happened; it would've been fun I'm sure, but would it have been better than bonding with my girls for an hour and a half? I don't believe so. Like the speaker in "Suburban", it was smart of me to hold back and wait for a better opportunity to fit and nitpick. There was even some reward.
I think service is more than just something that is done, it is something that is experienced. Part of the experience is humbling oneself as to have a better and more rewarding experience. Part is disconnecting and only focusing on service, as to be completely present in service. And another large part is knowing when to speak and when to listen. Service is a cooperation between people and the only way to guarantee it runs as smoothly as possible is by checking oneself and being fully invested in the service.