I had to go beyond myself
Learning what it really means to serve my neighbors
A while ago, I was wondering what it really means to love my neighbor. It seemed that a lot of the loving acts I was trying to do during the day were not a big deal — aren’t there many kind people who help and do many things for others?
Compelled by the example of Jesus, I understood that he was serving others not so much by doing but by being love for everyone.
Our English teacher suggested that we volunteer to have the chance to practice and learn “real English.” So I thought to offer my help to a nursing home, which wouldn’t have been my first choice, but maybe a chance to learn to serve.
The first time I went there, I was very insecure, and I didn’t know what I could offer. I observed my friend who works there and also tries to live the spirituality of unity. During an activity, the residents started falling asleep, so with a big smile, she spontaneously offered a massage for everyone — more than 15 people. And the situation changed: they became interactive, happy, and they felt her personal love and attention. This helped me to overcome myself. I thought I could do that too
So I started smiling or saying hello with affection and joy to the residents and listening with attention. In a short time I felt at home and was able to build deep relationships with many residents, and one of them offered to help me studying English, which was really a gift for me.
While I was giving one of the residents a manicure, I felt how happy she was, and it wasn’t difficult for me anymore to do these simple services. I still felt the challenge of my missing language skills, but I found the meaning to be there by offering myself with another skill, the skill of love.
Then there was a woman I will call “Nancy”: she was not doing well, and I happened to be there and felt her need for a conversation. I took a leap and started to talk to her, and we discovered that we had many values in common. She liked my small rosary, which was precious to me because I received it as a gift from a friend, so I offered it to her, even knowing that she didn’t pray. She accepted it with joy.
During the final days of her life, she asked me to be with her, holding her hand for hours. It was the first time for me to be close to someone leaving for heaven. Her son later thanked me and told me that she had my rosary in her hand when she passed away.
I’m the one who is grateful for these experiences, because they taught me what it really means to love and to live every moment as if it were the last.
H. K., New York
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