What I Learned About Service  

In the summer of 2010 I was about to step on the stage to dance the cha cha in front of 1,000 people and paused to reflect on why I was there. I had raised money for a great charitable organization, thanks to the friends and family who had sponsored my dance. But as an attorney and mom with poor hand-eye coordination I was terrified—and certainly not a ballroom dancer. Waiting for my musical cue, I thought about my parents.

They were people of modest means without spare time to volunteer in the community. Yet, in their small ways, they helped others. Whether taking in a young relative who was having trouble at home, providing a loan to the family of my high school friend who had less than us (without mentioning it—I found out much later) or making small donations to groups assisting the poor and sick, I learned it was important to help those in need.

As an adult, I sought and found ways to serve, winding up on that dance floor and making it through the dance.  During the ensuing years, while studying yoga philosophy, my understanding of what it means to “serve” or to “be in service” began to deepen and change. I learned from Sean Corne, a highly respected yoga teacher and activist, about “conscious activism” (more below). I became involved with a start-up grassroots political group, and discovered ways to empower others (and myself) to speak up as citizens and to ally with people who are different, but share the same goals. And I began to think of how I could be of service by looking inward to heal myself and, as a result, the most important relationships in my own family. 

In this journey, I often think about these three things:

•The term “Tikkun Olam,” which in Judaism means that we are all responsible for not only our own moral, spiritual and material welfare, but also for the welfare of society at large.

•The words of Sean Corne, who says that it is up to each of us to make a difference in the world and that we must practice conscious activism as a system of shared understanding and inclusive, supportive communication.

•The writings of David Brooks, a conservative columnist and author, who says that social isolation underlies a lot of problems, including our lack of healthy connection to each other, our inability to see the full dignity of each other, and the resulting culture of fear, distrust, tribalism, shaming and strife. He believes the solution is people around the country, at the local level, who build community and weave the social fabric. He calls these people the “weavers.”

I believe each of us can make a real difference in the world,  whether through large efforts or, like my parents, in small personal ways. It doesn’t have to be in politics and it definitely doesn’t have to be through dancing! 

I know we will be a great community of weavers at the Sattva Wisdom Center and I can’t wait to see how we change the world and ourselves for the better —one person and one conversation at a time.

Love and light, 

Denise

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