FIRST PUBLISHED FEB. 22, 2015
My dad lived the Golden Rule and instilled in me and my siblings the importance of being of service to others. Long before the phrase "pay it forward" was part of the American lexicon, Daddy would often do things for his neighbors or friends without any of them discovering it was he who had performed the service or done the good deed. He never wanted or needed recognition or validation for his kind-heartedness. For him, this was the best way to exemplify the Golden Rule. His way of living and being has such a marvelous effect on people that it can ripple through the whole community. One of Daddy's favorite expressions is "Just Be," and if you add any of the virtues to the end of those two words that would be him! Just be kind, just be generous, just be loving, just be considerate, just be helpful ... JUST BE!
The Golden Rule can be found in the scriptures of all of the world's major religions. Most know it as "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." In the Bahá'í Faith, it is stated as "Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself." When one reflects on the word preferreth, it is easy to see how being of service is of the utmost importance in leading a spiritual life. Soon Bahá'ís around the world will be celebrating Ayyám-i-Há, days set aside at the end of February specifically for giving and for being of service to others.
I think of the service projects my daughter and granddaughters will be doing the last days of this month. We Skyped with them this morning and were delighted to hear the many things they want to do for others. They are so excited about their service projects that they are enlisting the help of their friends for some of them, too! Recently, I shared a very long list of suggested service projects with them and these are the ones they are most eager to undertake, beginning during Ayyám-i-Há:
Sew pillowcases with inspiring messages and take them to orphanages
Walk the neighbors' dogs
Bake treats for firefighters
Visit nursing home residents, talk to them about their lives, write down their stories, play instruments for them, find out if any of them were musicians
Donate DVDs and/or CDs no longer watched to a children's hospital
Take food to a homeless shelter or volunteer in a soup kitchen
Ask elderly neighbors whether they need help with yard work or house work
Create artwork for hospitalized children to brighten their walls
Perform musical instruments for kids in hospitals
Babysit for free so neighbors or friends with children can have a date night
Offer free tutoring to students having trouble in school
Donate unused toys to pediatrician's or dentist's office
When I called my daughter later today, they were already engaged in walking a neighbor's dog! Our oldest granddaughter, Jain, has been helping her fellow students understand difficult subjects for some time now. Sofia will invariably rush to the aid of anyone who is injured or upset. When the girls were with us last summer, we stopped in to visit friends who were unable to attend our Bahá'í worship service. Jain and Sofia created a liturgical dance and wanted to perform it especially for them. It's plain to see they have been living the Golden Rule and will do so for the rest of their lives.
When they visit this summer, we will most definitely seek out ways for all of us to serve others. There will be a new addition to the family and I know an aunt and uncle who will really appreciate the help!
How are you and your grandchildren serving others? We would love to hear your stories! Happy Ayyám-i-Há to our Bahá'í family and friends! And to everyone, keep paying it forward and remember to JUST BE!
As Grampy says,