Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Joy of Not Serving (My Sacred Life, Sunday)

It is very early in the morning as I write, early enough that only the first tendrils of dawn are beginning to peek over the horizon to the east. I was not the first one up, though. There are a dozen or so birds within earshot--I can hear them because the first thing I do when I wake up is to open up the house so we can take advantage of the cool predawn air. We want to capture a house full of that cool air in preparation for the expected afternoon heat of another July day here in Denver.

This time is my time. Sunday is the only day of the week when I have no obligations I am thinking about as I arise and get moving. Monday through Friday, there are work-related thoughts running through my head--thoughts related to leading a team to do a great job with fewer resources than would be ideal.

Saturday, I'm checking over Julia's grocery list to plot my trip to the grocery store, probably doing a load of laundry, and otherwise being busy. Grocery shopping is not a problem for me, nor is laundry. I usually manage to get everything on the list, and I seldom mess anything up when I am washing clothes.

The point, though, is that I live my life, for the most part, in service. It is my choice to do so, and I generally find it a fulfilling and personally rewarding one. My job, or the primary reason my job exists, is to ensure that efficient and reliable computing and telephony tools the 620 people in my office need to do their jobs are right where those tools need to be, and are performing as advertised. I have three people on my team who, thankfully, are as passionate about doing what we do with visibly excellent results as am I.

At home, I have responsibilities which are similar to what many husbands are used to having--the honey-do list, the lawn, manning the grill at least once a week--and some which are less common, but fall to me in the division of labor of our household. I have four daughters, three of whom are now in college or looking at post-graduate opportunities, and one still needing rides several times a week who is about six months shy of having her driver’s license. So, I'm driving one, paying for stuff for the rest.

There are times when I feel pulled in too many directions...too many competing needs which all require my attention. One of the features of a life lived in service is the fact that things sometimes don't flow, but clog up and pile up and gang up. An unanticipated surge in demand, one might say.

Right now, this moment, is my time to contemplate how lucky I am to have so many who look to me for help. At the same time, it is my respite, as there is no one to whom I am of service right now, but to me.

Right now, this moment, is my time to be serving no one else.

Right now, this moment, there are no responsibilities, no calls echoing through the house of someone seeking my presence, no ringing phones or chirping Blackberry devices alerting me to the next crisis, no offspring reminding me she needs a ride, only she never told me in the first place, and she needs to be somewhere in six minutes.

In a few hours, I will be pulled back into the life I have chosen...the life I love. For right now, though, I am experiencing the deeply felt, heart-renewing energy of the joy of not serving.


Julie said...

Ahhh, mornings with open air and singing birds - you describe it perfectly. It sounds as if this morning peace is well earned! I've learned in my own way that too much time "not serving" makes these moments less sweet.

dharmamama said...

But Rick - you serve by writing, by sharing yourself.

Who serves? Who is served? I often don't know, and I've mostly given up questioning.

Rick Hamrick said...

Yes, Julie--I agree that too much is, well...too much.

DM--you helped me make the point which I left unsaid: there is only service possible if the server is taken care of, as well. And, serving is defined in lots of ways, not all of which are consciously acknowledged.

As long as it is possible to refill the well, then who is drinking from it and how that is taking place is not an issue at all.

I relish the thought of refilling my reservoir while others are finding something here worth reading. It's a good vision to hold!

Olivia said...

What a beautiful post. I agree that it is only by the serving that the "not serving" is so sweet.

I know someone who refuses to serve, but insists on being served. This person has taught me so much about service by negative example. They feel no joy, life is flat, and they demand more and more as they become more and more miserable...and insist on more obeisance from others. What a sad, sad life.

People with the most joy are those who serve others and who make a difference. If more fathers and husbands desired to serve their families, what a different world this would be!

Peace and overflowing blessings and rest,

Sphincter said...

This is lovely. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Rick Hamrick said...

O--it was a glorious day yesterday, and I was properly prepared for today. Thanks for your encouraging words. I'm sorry to hear of the person you know who has so lost track of why we are here.

Sphinc--I'm so sorry to hear of the developments in your personal life. I was about to make some really tasteless joke here, but I quickly stopped by the Sphincterhood first. So, I learned the news before completing this comment.

I have been there, my friend. It is hard...the hardest life experience, I guess, I ever went through. That's the only really valuable point I can pass to you: that phrase, "went through." You can, and you will, and one day, you will be saying to someone right where you are today, "It's hard, and you will get through it."

I hurt for you tonight.

ladybug said...

I know how special those moments good to hear you voice your gratitude for them as well.

I feel my own mental temperature has dropped a few degrees just listening to your birds and feeling the cool morning air come in.


Rick Hamrick said...

Monique--thanks so much for your comment! It really is a magical time of day, and even on work days I do enjoy the softest of breezes as the cool air barely moves, and the birds let loose with the "Hey! Check it out! The sun is coming up...AGAIN! How cool is that??" melodic chirps to alert us that, yes...we have been granted one more day.