Charles Eisenstein has written in Sacred Economics, (Evolver Editions, North Atlantic Books, 2011) of a man who struggled to do his never-ending work of owning and running a care home. State regulations made his life miserable. Every day he looked at his desk and didn’t know where to begin – and didn’t know how to make it through the work, necessary and important. His attitude and his approach to the work itself began to change when he learned to start each day by “bowing to service.” When he offered his work in the spirit of service, when he surrendered his need to control and manipulate in order to get the work done, he found that his days flowed smoothly – what was needed was accomplished.
Indeed, each one of us is called to be of service, in whatever work is ours. Most of us make our lists and fill our calendars with important dates and appointments, all focused on getting the work done.
How many of us choose to “bow to service?” I heard Eisenstein speak on Veronica Entwistle’s weekly radio show on BBSradio.com, “Paradigm Shifters.” When he spoke of “bowing to service,” I was touched and moved. In those words I see an action, the action of bowing, of offering, of surrendering to what is needed. And I feel the movement of “bowing to service” as much as see it.
Today is the day after the Grand Jury’s announcement in Ferguson, Missouri. Last night I cried as I heard the Jury’s decision read. I cried for all of us. I cried for Michael Brown’s parents, who will grieve the loss of their son forever, even as they call for honorable action on the part of protestors. As I went to sleep last night in Oakland, I heard helicopters circling overhead. When I awoke this morning, an early-morning Twitter stop flashed pictures of businesses burning in Ferguson during the night.
This world, our world, this world that is yours and mine to steward, to serve, is in need of those who will “bow to action.” Our young people are in the streets, begging through violence for justice and hope they may never have unless those of us who keep wisdom “bow to service.”
So often we hear calls for justice. So often what the “calls for justice” really speak to are calls for fairness. I doubt we human beings really know justice. I know I am not wise enough to know what justice is. But I also know that so much of what we take for granted is built on the shoulders and the lives of those without privilege. That is how things work in the world as we know it.
So my call today is for us to “bow to service.” Bow to service to serve something higher or greater or more wise than ourselves. Bow to service not as a “do-gooder,” serving some forgotten voice that has controlled your life forever; bow, instead, to service that will guide your actions, move you to act in ways you may not have thought possible.
This is Thanksgiving Week. It is good practice to be grateful. My thought is to also, in this week when we honor abundance – we who live in the midst of those who only suffer want – that we “bow to service,” whoever we are, wherever we are. It is good practice, to be sure, to “bow to service.”