We Live to Serve
And Serve to Love
And Love to Serve
I found this quote as I was going through some old files. I remember my heart being struck the first time I read it many, many years ago and now I am struck anew at the power of the thought behind it. It makes my heart beat a little faster. I recall Beethoven once writing about his angel nature in a letter to his beloved. This statement reminds me of my own angel nature. I think we all have one if we can find it and connect with it! Teaching children is a good way to make that connection.
For many of us—whether we are parents, teachers, doctors, psychologists, social workers, or bankers—service to children is our lives. Our service gives shape and meaning to our existence. It makes us happy to do things for others. Can you remember the look on the face of a child you gave a special gift or compliment that made his or her day? Just the other day, a young friend of mine had to give up a special vacation to help her boss through a time of personal trial. It was a difficult sacrifice. I told her I was proud of her, and the simple fact that her sacrifice was acknowledged affirmed her and truly made her day.
We have had the desire to serve and we have found ways in our lives to dedicate at least some of our work to those around us. This does not apply only to our children, but for those of us with children, that may be a primary focus.
We express our love through our service. We serve to love. I can remember that, as a child, I wanted to help people. I did not ever think I would be a teacher, but I knew I wanted to assist others. The deep pain of those around me has always been something I was more aware of than I ever wanted to be. But once I saw it, I wanted to help. I considered being a nurse, but I did not like being around blood so I quickly ruled that out. In my younger years, I thought that I would go into politics or writing.
Serving the Inner Teacher
Then, when I read about the inner teacher in The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori, I realized this was what I had always wanted to do; I just didn’t know it! She wrote about how every child learns to speak his mother tongue without any external coaching just simply by listening to people speak around him and being part of a family. "There is—so to speak—in every child a painstaking teacher so skillful that he obtains identical results in all children in all parts of the world."
So how could I serve children just by being with them? How could I learn to do that? I wanted to serve to express my love for life and, when I began spending time with children, I knew that I would love to serve in this way.
When you start something—like when I started teaching in 1972—you never quite know where it is going to take you. It seemed a little thing then, yet it meant so much to me because it was my very own small step forward.
Mary Ellen’s class of children in 2009.
The 2007 Russian teacher training course.
I guess that, when we live to serve and serve to love and love to serve, where we are going takes care of itself!