The upcoming week will be the week of September 11th observances across the USA. The events of seventeen years ago, and the heroic acts of courage and service that transpired on that day, and in the weeks and months that followed, will be recounted and remembered. The countless stories of those who answered the call, chose to serve and respond in order to rescue those in need, will forever remain with us and inspire us.
The healing continues to this day. Some of the first-responders, volunteers and health personnel who served in the immediate vicinity of the towers suffer long-term health consequences. Many others who were witness to the events, in person or in cities across the USA, are perhaps still healing. The ones who personally lost friends and family and acquaintances – their need for healing is perhaps the greatest.
Regardless of the breadth and depth of healing required, it is perhaps our commitment to remembrance which has the greatest power to heal. Remembrance does not mean that we dig up old wounds with anger, hate and recrimination. That only serves to reverse our healing progress. Remembrance can mean a re-commitment and a re-affirmation to walk in loving action of the path of those who inspired us to serve.
One hundred and eight years to the day before September 11 2001, there was another event in Chicago, where a hitherto unknown monk representing India said:
As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.
– Swami Vivekananda, September 11 1893
It is often that the mind tends to forget the stream of love and goodness that runs through the hearts of those who serve for the sake of purity of service. When the mind’s focus is on those who use arithmetic progression to increase evil, the heart tends to forget the embrace and sacrifice of those who employ service as a means of geometric progression to propagate healing goodness.
Geometric progression of healing begins with you and me. Progress is sustained by our orientation towards serving with an attitude of gratitude – gratitude for our ability and awareness to serve, and for being given opportunities to serve the greater good. It is through our loving attitude towards service that we can plant the seeds of healing in those we serve, and equally importantly, within ourselves.
I often wondered what my high-school motto of ‘Service before Self’ really meant. The history of two events, on September 11th, one hundred and eight years apart, have given me a better understanding. Service before self is an opportunity to heal. Service is a geometric progression whose common ratio is greater than one, and whose sum brings us closer to the infinity of Self with every action.
P.S. Join us for our weekly conversation with the #SpiritChat community – Sunday September 9th at 9amET / 630pm India on twitter. Share your thoughts on service, healing and (geometric) progression… Namaste.
Nature heals… through ‘service’
I like to think of your “service before self” as service beyond self. We can find ways to transcend ourselves in serving others, going farther, doing more, in offering our time, talent and resources to benefit others. There are those without basic needs and we can contribute to alleviating their suffering by offering what we have – food, clothing, shelter – all to help the quality of life. Then there is the healing of those with broken hearts, broken spirits, who may need our presence, our understanding, our acceptance just as they are.
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I like your ‘beyond’ aspect, because it evokes the idea of (self) exploration – what more are we capable of – answering a call to serve helps uncover, unveil our latent, higher abilities…