Rachel Naomi Remen
If you don’t already know Rachel Naomi Remen’s work, you should probably head to your nearest bookstore and buy everything she has ever written. Both Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging have a permanent post on my bedside table.
Whenever I have asked myself what my hugest Mondo Beyondo dream is (the one that’s scary to even say out loud) it is this: To write a book as beautiful as My Grandfather’s Blessings. This book is like sacred text to me… like a wise friend that counsels and comforts. Every time I pick it up, there is more to discover, more to learn, about what it is to be human and how we can love and serve one another better. I cry through nearly every story.
I recently listened in on a live call she hosted with Frank Ostaseski (founder of Zen Hospice and the Metta Institute) on the topic of A Life of Service. I transcribed my favorite part of the call below:
How we Serve
We don’t serve with our strength– that’s helping people.
We don’t serve with our expertise — that’s fixing people.
We actually serve with ourselves. We serve with everything we are.
Our wounds, our own wounds, are the source of our compassion for the wounds of others. They make us gentle with the wounds of others, and able to trust the mysterious process by which we heal. Not as a theory, but as a lived experience.
Because we too are wounded, no wounded person needs to be ashamed in our presence or a lesser person.
No wounded person is alone.
Our loneliness recognizes the loneliness in others, despite the masks that everyone is wearing.
And it gives us the courage to reach out to others and to be present with them as they find their way out of places of darkness and constriction.
We are enough to make a change in the lives of others.
Service is not something that you learn. It’s something that you are.
-Rachel Naomi Remen