Who seeks for heaven alone to save his soul,
May keep the path, but will not reach the goal;
While he who walks in love may wander far,
Yet God will bring him where the blessed are.
--Henry Van Dyke
A friend of our family gave us an interesting gift this Christmas--a copy of Henry Van Dyke's book The Mansion. (Read it here.) Reading this story, along with another of Van Dyke's books, The Story of the Other Wise Man, has put me into a rather ponderous mood.
Under the influence of these inspired stories, I cannot help but feel that life, beneath its facade of complexity, is painfully simple. Have I done any good in the world today? If not, I have failed indeed.
I was recently taught the importance of introducing order into my life in areas where chaos currently reigns. In addition to meaningful prayer and searching the scriptures, my bishop taught that anonymously serving others for a few minutes each day is critical to removing chaos and establishing order.
Nothing eliminates negative feelings faster than easing the burden of another. Nothing clears the mind, sharpens the intellect, expands our view, releases tension, purges fear, softens our hearts, expands our compassion, enables us to love, and brings peace to our souls more quickly and effectively than secretly helping someone.
My biggest barrier to accomplishing this is typically that I don't know what to do. I tend to start my thinking with people outside my sphere of influence. How silly. Look around. Who is in the room with me? I can do something for them, sometimes without even moving. Alone? Who is in the next room? Next door? Across the street? I don't have to go far to fulfill the Savior's plea to love my neighbor. Still no one? Pick up the phone. Scan my contacts. Call someone. Text someone. Easy. Wonderful.
It seems to me that I spend too much of my time intending to do good. Time to start doing more. Just like Mr. Weightman and the other Wise Man, we will all learn sooner or later that life has relatively little to do with anything other than treating those around us like the kings and queens they are becoming.