The following is from Caroline’s 2015 Salon
A few days ago, I put up the following Facebook post on the topic of service: “To be of service to others through your inner gifts, your intuition, your courage, your talents and your creativity is possible for all those who are willing to respond to the needs of others. Toward this end, you must see yourself as healed, having completed the unfinished business of your past. While you may visit your wounds every now and again, you can no longer emotionally or mentally reside in that contaminated psychic field, continually processing wounds that are decades old. Your focus has to be in the present moment. This is where you power is, and being in the present is what your health requires.”
This post went viral, as the expression goes. In fact, it has turned out to be one of the most read posts in all the years my site has been up. Now that has given me reason to examine the content of this one paragraph and the numerous responses written by all our Facebook followers very carefully. What is so inspirational about the content of this paragraph? So many of the comments were words of agreement such as, “I agree” and “Thank you for this”, so here are my thoughts on why this message struck a cord.
Being of service to other human beings is a calling. It is not a job. It is not a career. It is a calling. And although that “calling” may be packaged as a job or a career, that is merely the vessel your calling requires. Further, the call to be of service does not require a job or a career. All it requires is a healthy you. And even further, by “healthy you”, I do not mean a fully physically healthy you. I mean a “you” who is capable of managing a “healthy” personal agenda when involved in “conscious” acts of service, from volunteer work to your role in any number of service occupations. That’s a high goal to shoot for, I’ll grant you that. But a “calling” is the “high spiritual road”, because in the process of serving others, the situation, job, or occupation will often bring out your own demons as a way of serving your personal growth.
The idea of service has intrigued me for many reasons, far too many to go into in one article. But being of service took on greater significance for me as my professional life flowed organically from doing medical intuitive readings to examining questions about healing: What did people need to know or do or not do or get or whatever in order to heal? Once you start asking those questions, you never stop, because there is no end to that mystery. One question leads to another and then to another and so on. Eventually I realized that unlike the data derived from physical science of the body that are quantifiable, emotional, psychological and spiritual data are subjective moving pieces. A person’s feelings change every day and with those changes, memories shift a bit this way and that. Stories are recalled slightly differently. Intimacy with other people can rise and fall with a phone call. The inner world, in other words, is an endless moving picture.
Yet, even with that, certain patterns – indeed, archetypal patterns – present themselves as consistent within human nature. To wit, we thrive on hope and love and disintegrate without nurturing. We respond better to kindness than abuse. We are tribal by nature. We need community, in other words. And we need to feel that our lives are of value to at least someone other than ourselves. Being of value requires that we are of service, that we are useful in some way. Said differently, we must find a “use” for ourselves, for that is the essence of self-esteem.
And so we ask these questions: For what reason have I been given life? What use am I, Lord? Why have you given me this gift of life? How do you want me to use this precious gift that is my life? Surely I cannot just use this for myself, indulging just my own needs every single day.
I learned from years of observations in the field of healing that having an answer to those questions, that is, feeling you are of value to at least one person, is an essential ingredient to healing. In fact, as I learned when writing Invisible Acts of Power, that became the most essential ingredient of all.
I’m going to share a story or two from Invisible Acts of Power, because the stories people shared with me about acts of service in their life changed my life. Actually, those stories didn’t just change my life; they initiated the beginning of my mystical path in the truest meaning of a living mystical path. This is how it all began for me: I had sent a request out via my web audience asking for stories of experiences of “service”; either how they had been of service to others or how they had experienced an act of service from someone. I anticipated that I would receive maybe one hundred responses but in three days more than 1,200 unbelievably tender, loving, heartbreaking, soul-moving stories filled my email box. I read every single one of them, some of them four or five times, as they were so incredible. (Just as an aside, reading 1,200 plus personal stories of truly exceptional – and at times miraculous – content in a condensed period of time is an extraordinary experience. I got “spiritually high”. No kidding.)
I was completely taken with the experiences people were sharing with me, from the briefest to the longest, from the most dramatic to the simplest. Every one of them felt as if it was alive, pulsating with life. And then one evening, as I was reading one particularly extraordinary story, I realized that these stories were “alive”. They were like human scripture to me, each one a vessel of grace transmitting a story of the power human beings have to help each other make it through the hard passages of life. Many, many things about these stories moved me to tears again and again, but I was especially taken by the simplicity of actions and how little it took to make a huge difference in a person’s life. I could not help but notice that not one person said, “I was looking for a way to be of service and when I saw that homeless person, I thought ‘wow, here’s my chance.'”
These acts of service were spontaneous responses from one human heart to another. Many times, the person giving to the other in need had no idea how much that person needed that kindness in that moment – and no doubt, never would find out. One man wrote to me, for example, and said that he was on his way home with the intention of committing suicide. He stopped at a street corner, pausing to think for a moment about his method. He had pills and a razor blade. As he stood on the corner wondering, “Should I down the pills and then cut my wrist or should I cut my wrist first and then take the pills?” he wrote in his letter to me that a car pulled up to the stop sign. He waited for the car to proceed down the street but then he noticed the driver, a woman, smiling at him. She then waved to him to cross while continuing to smile at him. He said that the warmth of her smile was such that it dispelled any thoughts of suicide right then and there. Her smile gave him hope again in the power of goodness and love. Any one of you could have saved a human being with a smile somewhere along the line in your life. But who would think that a smile could hold the power to save a life?
What is being of service? Looking upon another human being with kindness and compassion and not judgment is a profound act of service and though such a form of service lacks for whistles and bells, this expression of “service” comes from truly understanding the power of your soul and what it means to “look upon another with eyes of grace.”
Writing Invisible Acts of Power turned out to be my own unforeseen portal leading to my life as a contemporary mystic, which I now admit I am. That simply means I dwell in matters of the spirit simultaneously with all that makes up a wondrous physical life. It’s cool. I am intuitively comfortable and spiritually fearless and physically at home in my body. Who could ask for more? And I owe so much to all those wonderful people who opened my eyes to a list of mystical insights, the most important of which I would like to share with all of you:
We are actually “designed” to be of service to each other because we are designed to sense each other’s energy field. That may sound odd but it’s the Truth – not true, but the Truth. Think of your intuitive system as a rose. The speed at which your rose opens – that is, the “speed” at which you become intuitively clear – is directly tied to how comfortable and safe you are with intuitively sensing the needs of others and helping them.
Further, the mystical laws that govern us teach that what we do to each one, we do to the whole. Therefore, even if we did not want to be intuitively sensitive to other people – and all other life – we could not prevent it.
Being of service to others is key to finding meaning and purpose in life. Givers fare far better than takers when it comes to having a meaningful life.
How you are meant to be of service is not necessarily your choice. That is, a “calling” is rarely so much a “conscious” choice as a path that organically unfolds as a result of other events.
When it comes to “health” and service, I am not speaking about physical health but psychic/emotional/psychological/spiritual health. Physical health is the least on the list. You can be ill in bed and of great service to another by passing on wisdom or by how you talk to people who visit you. “Health” should never, ever be defined as how you “feel” physically.
The healthier and more balanced your self-esteem is, the more comfortably and naturally you will sense the vulnerabilities of other people. You will not fear “empowering” another person; whereas, if you are intimidated by others, you will hesitate to listen to your intuitive guidance because you won’t want to help them. Or you will help them but not with the full measure of your heart and intuitive abilities. You will hold back, in other words.
Judging others blocks your intuition. Enough said on that. Just remember that every time you judge someone, someone somewhere is judging you right back.
Holding on to wounds makes you want to see the world “your way”. There is no such world as “your world” except in your own mind. Just remember that. Don’t except too much company in there. And don’t expect your “mind” to help you heal anything because as a rule, it gets you into more trouble than you can imagine. Wounds can generate an attitude that you “deserve” something from others – more time, more care, more sympathy. Every person’s wounds need to be acknowledged by not by every single person. Sometimes an act of service to a wounded person is to stop acknowledging an old wound and move on.
An act of personal and loving self-service is that you stop telling yourself nonsense. Healing is not about forgetting your wounds or pretending everything is okay. Someone on Facebook wrote that my telling people to get into “present time” was “blaming the victim”, although I am not sure how sound and wise advice came across as blaming the victim. The advice to live in present time is wise and healthy life advice. This is where your attention should be. What good is dwelling in the past, focusing on yesterday? Where does that serve you? To be clear, wounds never disappear. They are a part of your life and mixed with wisdom and self-esteem, they become assets in your life of service within the arena of your world. Some people have wounds the size of Mt. Everest. Their childhoods were nightmares. And then there are the day-to-day problems we face. Sometimes we have something to give to others and sometimes we are the ones who need to be taken care of. That’s how life works. Sometimes your self-esteem is up and sometimes it’s down. It’s never always up and it doesn’t have to always be down. Life is a moving picture show. We all go up and down. There is no such thing as being “always” anything – from always healthy to always happy to always sad to always anything. But we cannot allow our wounds to steal the whole of our life.
If your self-esteem is low, if you are seeking attention, your motivation in “serving” will be tainted in some way. This bit of wisdom is as applicable if you are serving as a volunteer or are in a service occupation or you are a caregiver for a family member. Our personal agendas are everything and it is tough work to keep them clean and clear. If you have a personal agenda that is other than what you signed up for, look out. Either whatever you are doing will exhaust you more than it should or it will make you angry because you are not getting enough attention for your efforts or you will become bored. Something will happen that will cause you to be disappointed in your surroundings, as is usually the case when a person is unclear about personal motives. You will likely seek gratitude, attention, appreciation and you will resent the needs of others. I have several examples that I can provide but none are as blatant as the therapist I knew who volunteered to serve on the therapy team for Columbine High School following the murder of all those students. As you can appreciate, several therapists flocked to Columbine, all eager to be a part of this crisis and as usual, power struggles exploded immediately as to what “volunteer” was in charge. This woman became so enmeshed in the power struggles with the other therapists that she was eventually asked to leave, which only infuriated her all the more since she was “volunteering” her time. As the other therapists gained minor notoriety on the news and had interviews with magazines, her rage went off the charts. Within a year, this woman died of a stroke. She literally imploded.
Wisdom about Service
What qualifies as service? To serve another means to be available for what that other person needs. Really, it’s no more than that.
Everything is an expression of service if you have eyes to see life that way. What is not an act of service if your heart is in the right place?
This is a question you should ask yourself before you get into arguments or gossip about someone: How does saying this or doing this serve me or the other person?
You need to be of value to someone other than yourself. Being of value requires that you know what is valuable about you and what your values are. No one can tell you that. No one can tell you what you should know yourself. What do you value about yourself? What are your values? Know thyself and you know your own Universe. It is no one else’s job to tell you who you are. You are in charge of choosing your values and sharing them with others.
Your intuition will thrive the more you find a comfort level with serving others.
Listen-respond-listen to your intuition. Toss a quarter to a homeless person. Don’t pretend you don’t see that person. Your intuitive gut can feel a vulnerable soul. Smile at people when you walk down the street. Smile at yourself, too.
Stay in present time. Remember, all things change in a second. Live in a field of grace at all times.