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Friday, November 15, 2013

What is Service?

  I've talked a couple times now about the idea of service and I've realized that maybe I need to clarify what I mean by that.
   Most people who honor the Gods and spirits* do so as the equivalent of what might be called laymen: someone whose religious activity is a part of their life but who would look to others to lead or for specialized help. Some people, in my view, end up being called by the Gods and powers to serve the role of being those leaders and specialized helpers. This is a logical process and its how most things work, really. I use a computer, but I look to a more tech savvy person when I need help with my computer, whether that's getting my pc and printer to talk to each other, removing a virus, or updating something. In the same way religious communities naturally are mostly people who are content to practice the religion without wanting the responsibility or hassle of having the specialized knowledge. Now obviously not all leaders in paganism are leaders because they are called to it by higher powers, but I do think many are.
  So, I've talked in my last blog abut how people who are called by the Gods are called to serve - what does that mean? I would say that it means to serve that God or those Gods within the community, either directly or indirectly. How this will actually work will be different based on each person's skill set, but some people may be called to be ritual leaders, some to write prayers (or books), some to teach; all iterations though on the theme - re-building the worship of that particular God, or more broadly that religion, in the world. Even the people who end up with a more reclusive approach tend to contribute to the broader community in some way, usually through their writings.
   Those who serve fill a need, one that is painfully present in our modern community - call it Deity outreach. Because someone has to do it, has to be out there rebuilding the broken connections and teaching the new generations how to interact with the Old Powers. Someone has to step up and create community; someone has to be a guide for beginners seeking something they don't fully understand; someone has to teach us how to connect to our own roots; someone has to bring back the honoring of Gods and Powers almost forgotten. And that is, I think, ultimately the types of service I see people being called to.  When the Gods find a person suited to serve their purpose they push, nudge, poke, inspire - aka call - that person to that work. It isn't fancy or glamorous, its mostly just hard work, and I often wonder why anyone would do it if they didn't feel called to do it.
   Now, having said all that in my own cynical, it-must-be-done, way, I'll add that it isn't all hard work and no play. There is plenty of joy and just plain fun in doing what needs to be done. There's moments that are absurd and ridiculous, particularly if - like me - you do much with the Fey. There are beautiful and moving experiences and there are indescribable moments of Mystery that are invaluable. The Gods are all about reciprocity; it isn't all just giving, giving, giving on our end and nothing back. I can honestly say that I would never have personally chosen to do many of the things I've done in service, but I have truly enjoyed the experiences I've had along the way and I'm glad I took the road less traveled by.

* really this could be Gods, a God, daoine sidhe, ancestors, anything like that but for simplicity here I'm just going to say "Gods" and you can switch in or out whatever specific term you want to.

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