thoughts on service

thoughts on service

It wasn’t until I was Kemetic that I understood what it meant to serve.

That’s a very strong statement to make, but it’s not untrue. I am an extremely insular person, something of an internet-dwelling hermit, and as an HSP and introvert, I do not do well in situations where I am among throngs of people, working towards a common cause. Public, out-there forms of service and volunteering and communal work have never drawn me in, both in terms of what I can do and what I’d like to do, given my own skills and limitations.

And so the essence of “to serve” has eluded me. It never felt important. I never felt pulled or pushed to do it. My personal focus has been on bettering myself, both internally and externally: being the best person and the best me that I possibly can. That’s how I help the world: by being better to it on a very personal, one-on-one level.

But now I am Kemetic; now I have a community. Now I have gods Who are with me for life, and while Their roles in my life may fluctuate as I grow with Them, and our relationships will certainly evolve, I do not worry that someday They will decide I am unworthy and leave. And while the future is never certain, and I cannot guess how humans will change, I am very fond of and comfortable with my House, my spiritual family, however quiet or communicative I am at any given week.

And for my gods, for my community, there is the question of service. There is the question of what I may offer them/Them, without draining or damaging my own self and life, that will enrich and enhance Them or help them in some way that matters. “Giving back” has been said so much, and it’s only recently that I have any emotional sense of what it really means, what it feels like to mean that.

I wrote about it, too. I asked how I could serve and what being devoted means to me. It was an intellectual question, a thoughtful probing of the social contract, before it was ever a heart-feeling.

But now it’s a heart-feeling. And I have been learning how to take action on that feeling, to manifest it into the world in some way that makes me proud and grateful, in some way that honors my gods and helps my community.

I designed a fresh look for the Tawy House website. Web design is something I do well and heartfully, and I was so happy and proud to be able to offer myself up to fill that need.

I am copyediting The Bennu, a Kemetic Orthodox devotional anthology. I am quite good at the layout of text and finding and fixing typos. I am very happy and grateful to be able to assist the project lead, and the community, with an actual publication. I want our words to shine as brightly as those who speak them.

I have, only a few times but hopefully more in the future, crafted for my brethren. I have made necklaces and paintings for the people my spirit loves, and I have touched their gods in doing so, and I am truly honored to be able to offer up the art of my hands to others’ deeply personal practices.

I maintain a prayerbook, and while my consistency in updating it leaves something to be desired, I have not stopped or given up. I have faithfully recorded every single prayer in it since last November. I have prayed over it; I have invoked my gods’ aid; I have offered drink and flame and scented smoke and chocolate. I write each name and each request in a language I have made for myself, and it is holy to me. That is my service to Nebt-het in particular, my Mother, my shadowed lady.

All of this has given me a deeper understanding of giving, of generosity, of offering up oneself in terms of time and energy. I feel I better know what it means when I say “let me know if I can do anything to help,” because I have experienced giving and serving, and the essence of that sacred, zen-like feeling is what pervades when I tell my loved ones that I am there for them, that I will do whatever is within my power to make their lives better if they but ask.

I am still respectful of my own limitations; I am still very self-aware. I know that I do not have infinite time or energy or emotional capacity or material means. I do not offer what I cannot afford to give, and what I can afford to give varies by day and by need. I do not compromise my own health or life in order to assist others.

But it means something more now when I offer to help, because I feel it instead of just think it, and I am more compassionately willing to act on what is asked for. That, for me, is a wonderful feeling.

I am not done learning about service and how it feels. But I have come a very long way in the past year, and for that, I am immensely grateful.