Service is joy

A therapeutic riding assistant helps Matt get ready to ride. Near Williamsburg, Virginia, April 2005.

A therapeutic riding trainer helps Matt get ready to ride. Near Williamsburg, VA, April 2005.

“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.”Kahlil Gibran

One of the great things about any sort of volunteer work is meeting people who care about other people and the world in general.  Working alongside others in a group effort creates a sense of community not found elsewhere.  If you find yourself feeling low or blue during the winter months, think about joining in a volunteer effort at your church or through a service organization.

During the cold weather, assistance for homeless people and animals may be in greater demand, and the elderly or people with disabilities often need additional help at home with errands or meals.  Children struggling in school may need tutoring, or Sunday School classes may need teachers. Or you may simply know someone personally who could use your help, outside of any formal agency.

As Gibran’s quote implies, the rewards of such efforts may not be apparent until you try it.  But in my experience, when I take part in some sort of service activity, I’m always glad that I did.  I hope you will be, too!

One year ago today

Faithfulness to a small task

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. MaryAnn

    Heart be still! My Matt & a horse! What joy is bubbling up for me!
    This post reminded me I want to contact Holiday Connection in Vacaville. Each year, our family donate gifts & money to put PG&E for seniors who need help. Recently, the lady who coordinates it told me that it is all volunteer work. I just sent her a message that I want to know more about their quarterly meetings. Thank you, Julia for helping me get something crossed off the “to-do” list. Yippee!

    • Mary Ann, I’m so glad you found it helpful! It’s always good to know someone has been helped by the blog, but it’s especially fun to learn when specific actions are inspired here.

  2. This is SO true!
    I wonder if this may contribute to people being grouchy during the pandemic – we can’t go forth and serve in our familiar ways.
    I wonder if remote service could be so gratifying? Have you tried serving in a new, socially-distanced way?

    • I suppose if one stretched it, some might claim this blog itself is a form of service. But most of the ways I have always served– through financial contributions, through sending letters and cards to those who might need them, through online advocacy via letters to various officials, as just a few examples– are already socially distanced. This is partly due to my personality, and also due to the limitations that caregiving for Matt (and later, Jeff’s illness) placed on me. I can tell you this: as a widow, what I have needed (and what I’ve heard many others say) is the actual willingness of people to be (physically) present in my life. One aspect of technology that was already a bit worrisome long before covid, is this tendency to want to control and limit how much we give another person. There is no substitute for actually being in someone’s life. In that respect, no amount of virtual connection will ever cut it. For some fascinating research, see the works of Sherry Turkle.

      • Thank for sharing that video, Julia. I appreciate what she said about how how if we don’t take time to be alone we’ll be lonely and if we don’t teach our children how to be alone, they’ll only know loneliness. It sounds extreme, but I think there’s truth to it.

        • Sherry Turkle’s work is fascinating and sobering. I wish everyone would read and contemplate her ideas– or maybe “warnings” is a better word.

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