The title of this post is drawn from a line within “Spring Giddiness”, a poem by the 13th century Persian mystic known as Rumi. Although written in the context of living love and divine beauty, the full line – “There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” – makes me think of service, or rather Service, where Service (with a capital “s”) encompasses those acts that transcend boundaries, offering macrocosmic and microcosmic benefits to the gods, the ancestors, various spirits (including animal, plant, and nature), and human beings. service is easy: start a community garden, work at your local homeless shelter, say your prayers, make your offerings, tuck your children in at night, etc. But Service is hard. Service is a program of service that is intentional, meaningful, and consistent with roots and branches that reach across the worlds. When we are in Service, every act is a prayer and an offering. An active prayer and willing sacrifice to the gods, to the ancestors, to the spirits, and to our fellow human beings.
That community garden has the support of the local landwights, brings the community together, offers the children rich soil to dig their hands into, provides produce for low income families in the area, attracts environment-minded people to the neighborhood, makes the news with its sustainability efforts, and shows the local politicians what the people in that neighborhood value. Your work at the homeless shelter consciously honors wandering gods and spirits, extends hospitality to those in need (consciously honoring the gods of hearth and home), fosters social bonds between human beings who have and those who have not, makes the local news for its innovations in assisting the homeless, links those without homes to vital resources, and let’s your local politicians know what you and your neighbors value. When you tuck your kids in at night, you are aware of the ton of children who do not have the same benefit and you actively ponder ways to improve the lot of those children in your community while also pouring libations to the Disir (female ancestors) and Mother/Father deities with whom you work for their care and good health.
When in Service, your prayers and offerings are in where you choose to spend your time and energy on a daily basis, what you include in your letters to local politicians, the charities you contribute to, the way you recycle, the lights you turn off when not in use, the water you save, the smiles you tickle out of children and in what you leave at the base of a sacred tree in thanks to the landwights, the libations you pour to the gods and ancestors in supplication and gratitude, your most recent trance journey to the Otherworlds to build bridges and form bonds with the beings there, and your latest oath to a god, spirit, or wight, your initiation into a mystery cult/tradition.
Service (with a capital “S) is not about being everything to everybody. Some of us do not have the resources to do everything listed above. With that fact in mind, “[t]here are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground”. My point is that Service is a program of small acts that is intentional, meaningful, and consistent. It is co-determined and co-created with your gods, ancestors, spirits, and other living human beings to ensure that it serves all who are involved and invested in the harvest of your Service. Consequently, Service strengthens relationships across the board and improves the quality of life across the board. service can be done on any given Saturday; Service is a life(style) choice that is constantly being shaped, worked and reworked, and adapted to who you are, where you are, why you are, and how you are as well as the who, where, why, and how of your gods, spirits, and ancestors. Service acknowledges and duly considers the ways in which every small act and the larger program of Service itself may reverberate within the Well of Wyrd.
As I work to integrate the various facets of my life and my spiritual practices, I hope to move from loosely strung Saturdays of service that have limited intent and consistency toward a life dedicated to Service. It is my sincere wish that such a life will honor the gods, the ancestors, the spirits of the Worlds, and my fellow human beings.
Hail the Worlds and the Ties that Bind Us!