first_stepI just got an email from someone I’ve never met who has been reading this blog and says that reading it has helped keep her inspired in her own service work with “at risk” adolescents.

I started to write her back and then it occurred to me that what I was going to say was pretty relevant and that I should probably write it here instead.

In life there are many different types of service.  Some types – like what we are doing now – may be seen as big and rewarding. Other types – like what she is doing – are difficult, unglamorous, and may at times even seem like a losing battle.

I realized long ago that we’ve all been dealt different hands in life and to judge one’s merits on the superficial size of one’s accomplishments is not a real indication of success.

Success can only be measured in the moment, relevant to how you respond to the conditions on hand.

Right now, I’ve got enough money to keep going on this project. I have a computer and web access. I am a white male in a country where that has value. I grew up in a good school system.  I am healthy.  I have the right conditions to take on things that one may not be able to take on in the face of poverty, sickness, learning disabilities, discrimination, etc.

Service has two components to it: 1) you try to make a positive difference, and 2) by humbling ourselves in the process of trying to make a difference, we can blossom spiritually. One can work to make a difference by spending years trying to get an autistic child to tune in or by spending years trying to change a law that will affect millions. Both courses are equally valid – they are both ‘The Work’ that needs to be done in our world, and it’s only through our own hearts that we can measure what work feels most important for us to take on.

longjumpJust last night, I met four young boys inhaling solvents on the streets of Delhi. This problem is huge with kids in the cities of India. They are all starved for love and it seems like with enough love and support, they would quickly let go of this habit. I tried talking with them for a while and then put Loveleen on the phone to speak with them in Hindi. We made a minor difference, but to make a real difference, I would have to stop this project and focus on these kids. Wherever we go, there are millions of areas where love and attention is needed and to walk away is always difficult. There is no right path. It is in choosing something – anything – and applying our care to it that we can and will make a difference. What’s important is to keep growing in love and humility and to keep engaging in positive transformation.

As far as growing spiritually in the process, in many ways the less rewarding work is the greater type of work, because through its challenges, the pearl comes more quickly, where in the reward-filled work, ego traps are all around.