St. Wilfreds is more than a church--it is a living, breathing embodiment of Christ. It is a place the struggling and the hungry can get food and coats and Christmas gifts for their children and backpacks at back to school. It is also a community clinic, offering health screenings once a month. They serve thousands and thousands of people each year. We'd never been there before; although we've helped pack food bags of rice and dried beans and pasta and peanut butter with other church friends.
Norman Valentine, the lay leader of St. Wilfreds, was so welcoming to us when we showed up. Others had been there for a little while and we joining late. It felt so good to be welcomed. I instantly felt connected. Our kids worked so hard raking and bagging up leaves--without one word of complaint. Nicholas got to know a member of our church who went to his elementary school when it was brand new. Mike immediately commented that we needed to learn more about St. Wilfred's, so we could do more for St. Wilfred's. The girls were happy to be there and dedicated to getting every bit of debris they could from underneath bushes and in gardens.
I thought to myself, I wish I could feel this way everyday--like part of God's kingdom.
I think that is the miracle of serving others: as much as we believe when we are performing a service for others, really in the end we are feeding our own souls. I think we are opening the door to the things that are truly important: love, community, compassion and using our minds and bodies to serve God.
With every leaf pile we bagged up, I thought where else can I help? I thought about other times I've felt this joy at working. Our Lemonade Stands for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation came to mind. Those days are always the best days ever--they are hard work--but they fill our souls with so much light and empower us to find other ways to make a difference.
When this year began, I mentioned how much serving others makes me feel my best--it exercising my spiritual muscle and gives me the type of contentment that is energizing and calming all at once. It is like it takes away the panicked energy that so often captains my day. Instead, I feel connected, focused and able to make an impact.
Service, friends, brings peace to the server and the recipient.