I watched the movie “Lion” for the second time tonight. The first time I saw it at the cinema, I cried for near on the whole movie. I was still hunched over, bawling, as the lights turned up, and a fellow cinema-goer felt compelled to make sure I was okay.
It wasn’t so much the theme of lost family and the pain associated with attempting re-connection, although that touched something deep within as there is a history of adoption in my family. But what affected my heart was the plight of so many children who are lost, unloved, alone, abandoned, hungry and vulnerable to harm. I have seen these children, walked among them, and fended off their pleading hands. The thing that hit, and hurt, my heart the most is coming to recognize the missed opportunities I have had to love.
In 2009 I lived in Calucutta (Kolkata), India, for the best part of a year. The scenes from the film were familiar to me. The city became a home of sorts, in a crazy, dirty, love-hate kind of way. You see, I was a nurse, newly qualified, and I wanted to live my life travelling to developing countries, working among the poorest and most in need. I wanted to serve, or so I thought.
Every day I traversed long distances along crowded streets, on subway trains and buses, stepped over rancid rubbish and human waste, dodged filthy water let loose from open windows above, and navigated curious and often uncomfortable attention from onlookers, as I made my way to work.
I implemented vaccination programs, I assisted in the treatment of tuberculosis and AIDS patients, and tended to patients with open, festering and gangrenous wounds. I was never, ever alone. The city was constantly and relentlessly alive, and thrummed with the population of roughly our entire country here in Australia. Humanity was everywhere, every one of my senses was saturated in some way with the life of another. And yet something was missing.
Something was wrong inside me; I could feel it and yet I did not know what it was.
I was doing what I wanted to do, I had “arrived”, so to speak, so why did I feel so unsatisfied, tired, even resentful towards the people I was serving? Why was I feeling more and more angry?
I realised, years later, that I wasn’t really serving. Because what I have been taught about true service is that it is a gift; it wants for nothing in return, only to love others.
“It is difficult to purify one’s desire to serve if the servant at first resists seeing the darkness within their own heart”
– Spirit friends, channeling received by Mary Luck
I see now that I was undertaking “good works” in order to gain feelings of validation and worth from what I was doing. I wanted to feel good by being useful, valuable, feel knowledgeable, interesting, worldly, and like someone people would approve of. All in an attempt to avoid the pain that really, inside, I didn’t feel any of those things.
“If your intention to help others is because you need something from them, it is not a state of love”
– AJ Miller
What I am coming to learn about myself now, is that while I am only seeking to get these feelings from others, my heart is closed to the reception of truth and love, and closed to connection. I walked among people who suffer moment by moment and my heart was closed. I looked into the eyes of people who know pain, and who live and breath hardship I cannot imagine, and I could not sincerely offer love nor true friendship in a way that was consistent and wanted nothing in return. I thought that doing such work would bring satisfaction and joy to my life, but any satisfaction was fleeting and coloured by undercurrents of these other feelings. I have heard that the motivation must be love for any action to have a positive and long-lasting outcome, and my ability to love – truly love, and not attempt to engage in co-dependence and emotional barter – is what was and is lacking. A closed heart feels like a solid hard structure that exists at the interface of human connection … how is relationship possible from this place?
I would like to believe that there was some sincere and true motivation in my desire to help others in need. I’m not sure. I know that I continue to be drawn to roles of service, and the work ahead of me is in developing and purifying my desire to love. I also know that I haven’t healed my heart and released the pain which causes me to seek external validation. But something cool and encouraging I read about being of service is this:
– How can you serve your brother if you yell at your child?
– How can you teach the sexually promiscuous to heal if you still judge
sexual promiscuity yourself?
– How can you encourage another to grieve the discretion against a partner
if you yourself are still full of rage towards partners current or previous?
Instead of trying to heal all of this before you begin, be ready instead, with a humble
heart, to cry with each of them and heal as you serve. What a gift it is to share your
humility with another.
– Spirit friends, channeling received by Mary Luck
This would indicate that I don’t have to have fully healed everything inside of me in order to sincerely serve others. I just have to cultivate and grow my desire for personal humility; that is, the willingness to feel all of my feelings, all of the time, and not live in avoidance of them. I have heard that it is the avoidance of feeling our feelings that causes all the problems!
I feel much sorrow about the way I misused the opportunities God gave me through such an experience to learn about love, however I see that it was an opportunity in itself to see what doesn’t work, and learn from that. I now recognise that, while I’m shining a light on my experience in India as it presented me with such a stark view of human suffering and my personal choice to remain closed emotionally in the face of this, I am also learning that I have the choice – moment by moment – to use my will to love the people around me now, no matter where I am.
“To seek for purity in love, to seek to make every action one of love and honour for the magnificent creation before you, whomever that may be – including the one that peers back at you from the mirror!
This is what it is to truly serve.”
– Spirit friends, channelling received by Mary Luck
This seems to mean that service is not just about helping those who we deem to be in need or who are suffering. Perhaps it is an entire way of life; a decision made every moment to live as an example of one who seeks truth about all issues so as to better be able to express love and humility in the world. What a cool state that sounds like!
So when a movie such as “Lion” comes along, cracking my heart open with images of suffering so familiar to me, it presents me with yet another opportunity. It’s a reminder. It’s the voice that prompts me to keep going; seek the truth about why I currently resist love, grow my desire for personal change. For if I have love inside me then I have love to give. I can truly be of service.
And I can choose to not let this opportunity pass me by.