Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rent

Service to others is the rent you pay for living on this planet.
                        Marian Wright Edelman (1939 - )

Y’all recognize her name, right? I did—yet I wasn’t sure why. I think she may have had a postage stamp in her honor—and I’m all about postage stamps (more on that to follow soon). So I Googled her:

She was a lawyer, educator, activist, reformer, children’s advocate, administrator. (All that just makes me pooped—and makes me look and feel like the slug I know I have become.) She was born in South Carolina, one of five children. Her father was a Baptist preacher who taught his children that Christianity required service. He died when she was 14, but told her to never let anything get in the way of her education.

She became involved in the civil rights’ movement after college and studied at Yale, becoming the first African American woman to practice law. She established the Children’s Defense Fund in 1973 as a voice for poor, minority and handicapped children.

Clearly she is an amazing woman. I adore her definition of “service,” and I’ll admit I probably wasn’t committed to true service until I had TLC. Up to that point, I was mostly concerned with my own survival. I worked from the time I was ten years old—beginning with babysitting (50 cents per hour—seriously)—until I was eight months pregnant with TLC. Even with a B.B.A., I made little money. Once I had TLC and was blessed with the opportunity to be a stay-at-home Mom, I became committed to volunteering.

One of my most favorite peeps on Earth, Jackie, has been a role model to me and many others for her unselfish service. After volunteering in our community for over 36 years, she is still going strong as an advocate for many causes. I’m proud to call her my friend. I truly treasure her—despite the fact that she makes me slightly (okay, VERY) jealous, because she’s also tiny and gorgeous! (Please—have a Crave cupcake, Jackie. I beg of you.)

On January 1st this year, hubby and I started our own little RAK program (Random Acts of Kindness). Each month we contribute cash to our “RAK Jar.” We also write down the random act(s) of kindness we’ve accomplished in the past thirty-ish days.  At the end of this year, we’ll let an impartial “judge” (hmmm—sounds like a great job for CeeCee, my forever candidate for President of the U.S.—see our post Welcome Home a Hero in March) decide which of the two of us did the most meaningful Random Act of Kindness. Yep—it’s kind of a competition. Can’t hurt, right? Go moi!  Then that person who “wins” will choose the charity or service organization to which we’ll donate our money. If this contest makes it "un-random," well, it's the thought that counts. Plus it makes it much more challenging!

One of the many things I cherish about my Sweet Man is the fact that he has always participated in Random Acts of Kindness, although he rarely shares or brags about them. He’s simply not like that. I usually have to find out what he’s done from others—or from conversations we have where he slips up! We both plan to continue to encourage our children and grandchildren to spend their lives thinking in terms of service to others.

Let’s have a drumroll before lifting our glasses of Diet Mountain Dew (or insert here the beverage of your choice)—aannndddd . . . CLINK:

To SERVICE: the ultimate act of love, gratitude, and hope—and “the rent” we must pay!

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