Thursday, July 3, 2014

4th of July/thoughts on service

(Today's post for the Cache Valley Volunteer Center)

My kids and I are spending our days this week with red, white, and blue projects and star-spangled flag activities. Our fridge is getting stocked for a weekend barbecue, and plans are in the works for fireworks and parades. The kids have been learning to sing 'Fifty Nifty United States' and it has become the soundtrack to our summer days.  In the midst of all the fun, conversations are popping up over breakfast, craft projects, and car rides. 'I'm so happy to live in America' or 'Isn't it great that we have so much freedom to choose what we want to do?'

A friend recently told a story of living abroad years ago. He and a friend were looking for a way to serve in their small community when they came across an old  wall overgrown with bamboo. They went to the city officials to get permission to work on clearing the space, and were met with confusion and suspicion. 'Why would you want to do this for us?' was the general idea.

I think that one of the great blessings of living in our country is the culture of service.  Every day I see neighbors, friends, and strangers here in Cache Valley offering service to one another - usually without giving it a second thought.  What a wonderful area we live in.

Because of my husband's work, we've had many opportunities over the past several years to spend time in New York City.  While he works, my kids and I explore and enjoy the sights and sounds and wonders of the city so unlike our own. As our family has grown, our recent trips have left me wondering if I wasn't one of the most unique sights to see in the big city (a young mom with 4 young children!)  And yet, each time we visit I am amazed at how quickly the strangers that I encounter there go out of there way to help me and my family.  Carrying a stroller up the subway steps, giving a smile or a kind remark to a tired child, giving up seats on the train, holding an elevator, offering directions, opening doors and holding them for our full parade of children to pass through. And all of this service, again, without a moment's pause.

With this week's celebrations and festivities, I'm so grateful to live in America. And I'm grateful for the examples of service great and small that make our country - with it's  big cities and small towns -  a such a wonderful place.