Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, 12:17 AM
“Service,” by Wangari Maathai, from Replenishing the Earth
We all have a need to feel at ease and in harmony with ourselves and the environment we live within. Many of us discover that it isn’t material things that provide this. In my own life, I have observed that well-being and satisfaction are achieved through compassion, the giving of oneself, serving others, and sharing. We aren’t material beings; we are filled with spirit. . . . Kikuyus used a gourd, in which they carried porridge or beer, as an offering or gift. Whoever received the gourd would polish it with oil before returning it. Over time, the gourd would become beautifully
varnished by this repeated polishing. The deeper the color of the gourd, the more generous you had been—and the more connected you remained to the world around you. . . .
These gestures of giving capture both the spiritual and the practical elements of gratitude and respect for resources. Our connections to the planet and each other are reinforced simultaneously. The spirit of not wasting, because we assign value to something, is found in many traditions, but not often expressed. We could benefit from spending more time polishing our gourds for each other.