The power of being of service
My time in prison:
While I'm getting ready to go again as a volunteer to Valley State Prison for men in Chowchilla, CA, I'm also reflecting back on the time that I have spent volunteering in women's and men's prisons over the last 6 years. It goes back to the power of being of service.
There are no words to describe the experiences I had as a volunteer in a men's prison. These particular men were all long-term prisoners serving 25 years to life, most of them for murder or for being accessories to murder. The majority of them were seeking a way to feel like valuable human beings. They wanted to find a way to feel peaceful and successful, even "in the cage", and they wondered if inner peace was possible for them.
Some of the common threads shared by the inmates included extremely poor parenting, emotional and /or physical violence in their homes, and severe socioeconomic disadvantages. In addition , many of them were illegal immigrants, or their families were illegal, which meant that they never had visitors.
The other common thread that connects the men is that almost all of them (the ones who attended our workshops) were looking for a second chance in life. "Aren't we all?" I said to myself as I walked through the wire fence on that cold November afternoon... the same fence I will walk through -in and out- this coming weekend again...
Freedom to Choose, offers a a second chance. We the volunteers, travel from different parts of the US, covering our own costs with the purpose of being of service.
In different ways each of us feel called to do the work in the hope of opening the hearts of the participants and bringing some light into the darkness.
There is a ripple effect that occurs when you help another person. By touching one person's life, you have the opportunity to touch many lives, even if you never know who they are.
Some of the prisoners became so excited by the work we do with them that they shared the tools we teach them with their own families outside the "cage".
I feel like we are lighting candles that are being passed around and used to light other candles with the flame of hope, love and transformation.
By doing so I keep the flame of my own light burning inside. In the process of helping others and serving others I also experience hope, love , and transformation.
There is nothing as healing and expansive as the power of being of service. This is something that I deeply explore with my clients. Being of service -in any shape or form- opens our hearts to connection, healing and expansion. Transformation occurs and our own personal life, relationships and professional life improve and change for the better. What are you waiting for? Help others... help yourself.