Just a few days ago on Sept. 11, many of us took a moment to remember the terrible events of that day 21 years ago. In an effort to create something positive from this event, The National Day of Service was instituted to be held every year on that day. Considering that the motivations of the terrorists who planned and executed these acts were based in hate; service instead generates hope and love, and brings a community together.
The wonderful thing about service is that it doesn’t have to be contained to a single day each year. Here are a few examples that have blessed my life:
When I lived in Idaho, one afternoon while we were out of town, a thunderstorm rolled in which dumped several inches of rain in just a few minutes, flooding the streets. One of our neighbors decided to check on our home. They then found that two of our basement window wells had filled up with water. One had created so much pressure that it broke through and filled the room with mud and water and the other one was close to doing the same thing. They then spent the next hour or so trying to pump the water out to relieve the pressure. I will forever be grateful to them for what they did.
Back in early 2020, I was gathered with family at my parents’ home, preparing for my father’s funeral. I had just stepped outside when I was approached by a woman whom I had never met before. She told me about how my dad had become a dear friend of hers and how he had loved and served her family over the past few years. This conversation was relatively brief, but it has impacted me deeply—especially seeing the love this woman had for my father.
This past summer, my mother’s neighbor came over and trimmed her shrubs and bushes. This is typically my job, but I’m only able to get out to visit her about every three months since she lives about 800 miles away. Even though I would have taken care of this when I visited the very next week, the way my mom spoke about this neighbor shows a deep appreciation for what was done. I was also grateful since this allowed me to focus on my mother’s other needs.
This is the miracle of service. It is truly the antidote to hate. As we serve one another, we not only develop and deepen friendships, but we also find healing ourselves.
Service can also build self worth. It doesn’t have to be some great thing that we do. I have found that simply bringing in someone’s trash cans, or offering a plate of cookies can go a long way to building lasting relationships and a sense of community. If we want to change the world, we need only look next door.
Mark D. Fullmer is Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Gilroy Ward. He is an active member of the Interfaith Clergy Alliance of South County. Bishop Fullmer can be reached at [email protected].