The popular Prayer of St. Francis, which was written a century after his death, does not mention the word self:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

And, there is no better place to find oneself than at home, at least for me. As a writer, I have learned to avoid absolute statements, so I have to add that “for me,” in case you are not lucky enough to have the family the kind of family that I have. I am blessed with a wonderful family: we love, we laugh, we cook, we fight, and we take care of one another. We are not all in one house, we are spread across vast distances, but our love and concern for one another, along with our respect for each other is more important than anything else. We are La Familia.

I can tell you from learning the hard way that this family became a stronger unit at the very moment I quit worrying about my own happiness. Happiness is an elusive devil, you usually capture it when you quit looking for it. And, the more I searched out “self” and worried about my own “needs” the further I got from my reason for being on earth and my much sought after happiness. I was not put here to be happy, fulfilled, or noticed; I was put here to serve. I don’t have to go far to find who it is I am best suited to serve; it’s the people I love, my family.

The secret of life, for me, is enjoying the love of those around me and the responsibility I have to do everything in my power to keep that love flowing. It wasn’t always this way: I have stumbled, and I have had failures, I suspect I may have them again. But each time I have failed before it is because I got away from service, because I began placing my own needs above the people around me. I hope I have learned my lesson. I am best when I tend my own garden.

I write about creativity a lot, and often, I admit, I find in inspiration in those things that disturb me. ¬†Some of my best writing comes in getting something off my chest or trying to solve problems. It is more difficult to write when life is good, when I am happy. Who wants to read about uneventful albeit it amazingly happy days? Well, if I want to call myself a writer anymore, I’m going to need to write from this place of joy and service, because the circumstances of my life only seem to be getting better. It’s funny how that works, the more I serve, the better life gets!

Lord, let me by your instrument. Let me be a vessel of grace. Let me be the peace my family needs, their strength when they are weak, and the person who will always understand. For it is in this grace that I find my own joy, my own peace, and my own understanding.

Amen.

 

 

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