In our modern world, it’s not unusual to interact with people (young and old) who are constantly staring at their phones or who have been brought up to believe that they are the center of the universe. Some believe that the world owes them everything but that they owe the world nothing.
Catherine Doherty, the foundress of Madonna House, once said, “I Am Third. God first, others second, and I am third.” When we think of our life in this way, we can’t help but embrace selflessness and generosity in service.
When I was 13 years old, I volunteered at the local special needs school, where I spent one afternoon a week taking care of a tiny four-year-old Down Syndrome girl named Jane. Initially, I only volunteered because my friends volunteered. At first, I focused on what I was doing for the little girl. But this beautiful toddler was an absolute delight, and she always found joy in everything, even in something as simple as the rain. When I finished volunteering later that year, Jane’s mother gave me a small gift and told me that Jane was always so excited when she knew I would be visiting with her. (It might’ve been because of my small stature – at the time, I was about four feet tall, the size of average seven-year-old.)
After my time with Jane, I realized that this sweet soul had taught me much more than I had taught her; she taught me the joy of generosity in service. I was still a rather self-centered teen, but as I grew older, I was more likely to be generous with my time and do chores without my parents asking.
Even now, nearly 50 years later, I still try to volunteer when I can. With generosity in service, anyone can find joy in giving their time for others.