Monday, February 8, 2010

Day 10: On the Road: The Blind Side and the Gift of Service

January 21, 2010

I saw a movie today called, "The Blindside." The storyline features Michael Oher, an offensive lineman who plays for the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL. It is about Michael's life. From foster homes to an opportunity to go to a Christian school to living with the Touhy's, a wealthy family from the school, we get an insight into the challenges he overcame. There was a point in his life when he needed a 2.5 to get a NCAA Division I Scholarship. Michael got a 2.52 grade point average with hard work and a team of people providing support including the Touhy's, teachers from his school and a private tutor.

This film was recommended by many of my friends from Baltimore as a great inspirational film. And it is a great, inspirational film. That would have been enough, but there is more for me than the connection to the Ravens, Baltimore and inspiration. It is a connection to a theme that has been bubbling inside of me for the last year. It is the theme of the giver and the receiver.

I grew up in a family that served the community and the world. Giving to neighbors, volunteering through Girl Scouts, donating money to nature preserves and UNICEF. There is a long list of organizations and activities that were a part of my childhood. As an adult and with my children that legacy of helping people, wanting to make a difference has continued. Stream clean-ups, adopting families at Christmas, delivering food to friends in need. My older daughters, Liz and Mary both have careers that involve serving communities of children, women and men and animals and the planet.

I can't imagine a life without giving and helping. But the new theme that has crossed my path in the last few months is how the person in need has served the giver.

Yesterday when I watched The Blind Side film, the mother in the family talked about how the true gift for her was the opportunity to serve Michael. It was Michael Oher who had impacted her life.

The idea that has been coming to me is that instead of feeling sorry for a person or situation, see them as a guardian angel that has been sent to you as a teacher. They are here to provide an opportunity to help you find purpose, creativity, meaning, love, happiness and compassion. They are here to help YOU!

I have been watching people and reflecting on my life this year. I have watched friends prepare food for a homeless shelter. Yes, it fed the people at the shelter and was a wonderful gift of money and time. Yes, the people at the shelter were hungry and needed help. I do not mean to minimize their pain. What I also saw was how the experience created a light in the faces of my friends. A light that wasn't there before they served the meal.

I saw a friend connect with a deeper part of herself this year by becoming the caretaker for a man she met at the shelter. I saw her confidence increase and her heart expand as she learned how to give medicine and take blood and take him to the hospital and sit in the waiting room while he had surgery. This was something she had never been able to do for family and friends. She didn't feel she was capable of it. This man provided her with an opportunity to serve him with love and compassion and it has expanded her as a person.

In my own experience, I had a son who was born with a congenital heart defect. Through his birth, 19 months of operations and physical therapy, and his death, he taught me about who I truly am. I learned to love like I had never loved before. I am still discovering new things about myself because of his service to me. He died 17 years ago and I honor him as one of my greatest teachers and guides.

I encourage you to find a place to volunteer that speaks to your soul and your heart. Appreciate the person and the situation and step into it. This is one of the reasons you are here. There are people who need help and I guarantee that helping them will make your life richer.

In the book, Conscious Choices: An Evolutionary Women's Guide to Life, Ginny Robertson wrote a story called, "Answering the Call: Making a Difference While Doing What's Right for You." She encourages people to find something that you are passionate about and to provide your uniqueness. That will serve the person and it will serve your soul.

I encourage you to find the cause that stirs your soul. When you give from a place of deep connection to the cause and follow the calling it feeds your soul, and it feeds the world.

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