How should I help?

This morning, a friend of mine posted a crowd-sourced fundraiser for a service trip to Greece to aid Syrian refugees. As I read about his desires and plans for the trip, something in me shifted, like a camera lens coming into focus. I thought, I want to go, I have to go. I had almost forgotten about the five years of war in Syria and the refugee camps in Jordan that hold a million or more. I had forgotten about the boats of men, women, and children crossing the Mediterranean Sea. I had forgotten about those boats sometimes failing to make the journey. My heart broke wide open again as I recalled the image of 3-year-old Aylan, facedown in the sand.

Of course, I know myself enough to know I have many whims and not every one of them is to be followed immediately (though, sometimes, they are!). I decided sit with this one, hold still my restless heart, and wait to hear the calling that so often pulls me forward to my next steps.

Questions began to arise. Why do I want to go help Syrian refugees? Would money I spend (and probably have to fundraise first) be better donated to an aid organization? Is flying to Greece really the most effective way for me to help? What about my homeless friends here in the States?

Why? Why do I really want to go? As I dug deeper, beyond those genuine feelings of heartbreak, I admitted to myself that maybe part of the reason is that I feel restless. I have a lot of energy that longs to be directed toward meaningful service and it’s sometimes difficult to remember that service can happen behind a computer screen. My restlessness also says, “I want a change! Let’s break outta this joint and go on an adventure!” Part of this is that I feel like my spiritual growth has come to rest on a plateau. A LOT has happened in the last 10 or so years and so much of that has been exponential. But, lately, I feel that even though I’ve come so far, there’s still a lot more to learn and my growth has been inching along for a while. I feel disconnected from my service to the world and want to go into the midst of true suffering and bring a little love with me there.

This is simply another reminder that there’s really no point in anguishing over shoulds and shouldn’ts. Every situation is very complex and everyone has a different perspective, a different piece of the same puzzle to solve. We have to simply listen for our unique callings and respond to it as we can. This is our dharma.

Who knows if I’ll ever go to Greece, but isn’t it fascinating what a torrent of thoughts can come from a single posting on Facebook?



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