allowing yourself to be served

I was thinking about some stories that I've heard recently about service.
In my swim coaches' newsletter, the lead story was about the brother of a
coach who'd been paralyzed in a car accident. He was a lawyer and swimmer,
so he was very active and spoke for a living. Now he couldn't move below
his nose and he couldn't talk. He became very depressed for a few years.
What pulled him out of the depression was a new perspective on his
purpose. He realized that his purpose was to allow others to fulfill
themselves by serving him. That included the nurses who cared for him and
the family members who take time out of their day to help him with the
most basic of human needs.

In the Gospel story of Jesus dining with Simon and accepting the service
of Mary Magdalene, there is a similar message. Simon was trying to show is
love by hospitality, yet he forgot some of the most simple and respectful
customs in his effort to provide a lavish meal. Mary was penitent and
served Jesus out of that motive. Jesus allowed himself to be served by
others because part of worship is fulfilling one's self through service
and contrition.

The same can be said for hosting parties and being a guest during the
holidays. Americans don't really draw the line between serving others and
allowing others to serve them. Guests must be polite by offering to help
the host/ess. In Russia, guests don't lift a finger. When the guests
become hosts, their guests don't lift a finger either. Culture can go both
ways on this issue. But in spiritual terms, there is value in serving AND
there is holiness in allowing others to serve you. I'm going to remember
this and relax when I'm in the position to be served. The gratitude shown
to me will make me a better servant to others when the time comes.

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