Mahatma Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others.” Service also a great way to practice animism. It helps you to share your gifts (sovereignty) and connect with others. So, whom do you serve?
In the old days, service was the hallmark of a lady. Rich women would check on the welfare of the poor, take them baskets of food, or tend to the sick. Today it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t have food or medicine. So, everyone in the west has resources and time to serve others. This act could be in the service of the human, plant, animal, or mineral kingdoms. Here are some ideas.
Serving the Human Kingdom
Humans have all sorts of needs that might also suit your interests, skills, and talents. Donating money is obvious and requires minimal effort. Lots of charities do great work and need funding, so it’s not a bad idea. If you want to get more personal, you could volunteer to teach people how to read. There are lots of organizations that lead trips to under developed communities to help with housing, medical care, and other basic needs. Some of these trips are domestic. Others are overseas.
If you are a musician, storyteller, or dancer, you could consider entertaining at an assisted living facility. I’ve participated in healing circles at assisted living facilities so you could even do that. If direct giving is more your cup of tea, you can help support some of the poorest families in this country. You can buy clothing, food, heating, school supplies, or diapers and give it directly to the recipient.
Serving the Plant Kingdom
Most of us don’t think of serving the plant kingdom. If you are a gardener or landscaper, you’re probably already doing that when you condition the soil, clean up trash, and use conservation policies when you are out in Nature. Other ways to help are to compost garbage, minimize your consumption, plant trees, conserve water, use biodegradable products, minimize chemical use, and learn about how the plants contribute to the circle of life. The more you know, the more you appreciate and protect. If you’d like to donate to a charity whose purpose is to protect habitat, plant trees, or engage in other plant loving goals, check out Charity Watch. They rate charities so that you know your money is going to the work, not the organization.
Serving the Animal Kingdom
There are lots of animal issues that need to be addressed: cruelty, pet abandonment, breeding, loss of habitat, extinction, and pollution to name a few. Every community has an SPCA that needs volunteers to walk dogs, socialize them, and clean kennels. You could create a wildlife sanctuary in your yard. (Educate yourself first on how your plans may impact the balance of Nature to avoid unintended consequences). You could create a butterfly or bee garden to give them food.
Be a good pet owner. Adopt if you can. Only have as many as you can care for. Some communities have a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program for feral cats. You could volunteer to help with that. I’ve done this several times. We neutered or spayed at least one hundred cats each day. That makes a huge difference in the stray cat population. If you find a wild animal who appears to be hurt, call your local animal rescue hotline. Well meaning people have taken perfectly fine babies away from their mothers, so educate yourself before you remove an animal from its home.
Serving the Mineral Kingdom
I know most people don’t think of the mineral kingdom as being alive. So, they don’t have strategies for serving. For the most part, the mineral kingdom can take care of itself. It just needs us to not interfere. Some things you can do to help are:
- remove your trash from parks, beaches, or any outdoor areas.
- don’t take sand, rocks or anything as souvenirs. Leave everything where you found it.
- think about where earth based products, like precious metals, crystals, coal, natural gas, and precious stones, come from. Consider that when purchasing or using them. Conserve. Source responsibly.
- volunteer as part of a trash clean up crew or a crew that removes invasive, non-native plant species from parks or public areas
- avoid the use of chemicals on the land and near waterways
- limit motorized water sports
- educate yourself about the creation and life cycle of soil, planets, rocks, stars, air, and water. This will help to build an appreciate of how they contribute to and impact your life. We protect what we care for.
Reciprocity is missing in a lot of spiritual practices, yet it’s a necessary component for flourishing. So many people are lonely and isolated. They are afraid to give. Or maybe they fear there is not enough. Look around. The Earth is abundant. You have so much. The plant, animal, and mineral kingdoms give freely. They serve us. Whom do you serve? What will you give back?