Rachel Naomi Remen,
My Grandfather's Blessings, Part 4
Desperate to be successful and make a contribution to society, I
gradually put him in the back of my memory with the other things of my
childhood. He had died when I was seven. It would be many years before I
would make the connection between his ways and the work of medicine.
Sometimes if you stay the course long enough, divergent paths reveal
themselves to have the same destination. My grandfather blessed life,
and his children served life. But, in the end, it has turned out that
these may be one and the same thing.
As a young doctor, I thought that serving life was a thing of drama
and action and split-second judgment calls. A question of going
sleepless and riding in ambulances and outwitting the angel of death. A
role open only to those who have prepared themselves for years. Service
was larger than ordinary life, and those who served were larger than
life also. But I know now that this is only the least part of the nature
of service. That service is small and, quiet and everywhere. That far
more often we serve by who we are and not what we know. And everyone
serves whether they know it or not.
We bless the life around us far more than we realize. Many simple,
ordinary things that we do can affect those around us in profound ways:
the unexpected phone call, the brief touch, the willingness to listen
generously, the warm smile or wink of recognition. We can even bless
total strangers and be blessed by them. Big messages come in small
packages. All it may take to restore someone's trust in life may be
returning a lost earring or a dropped glove.
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