Uplifting Messages for Everyday Lives


Serving people and volunteering reflect how culture has shown a

history of caring and pulling together in times of adversities

and strife. The valuable message and “roots” come from all faiths

and can be found in various examples.

Spurred on by my recent “Spire” newsletter from the First Presby.

Church, in Delaware, Ohio’s message:

“Mission work that is carried out by churches and other organizations

makes a difference in the lives of people all around the world. One

purpose of mission work is to help those who are hurting in whatever

way is appropriate to their specific situation.”

I could not help reflecting on the different levels of helping others

that I feel I have done and will try to add more to my own sense of

purpose in life. I wondered if I could investigate and find some

history in the United States, of being positive ‘lights’ and doing

good works.

Native Americans have always viewed the concept of helping each

other, as beneficial and calling it a “give away.” The process

is described as choosing a special gift to impart at a helpful


This is a long-respected tradition, honored among most tribes.

The Pacific Northwest and Canadian Indian tribes have something

called a ‘potlatch.’ I found that the Chinook tribe was one who

originated this process, but if someone is more knowledgeable on

this subject, please feel free to ‘pitch in’ and help me explain!

Native American traditions are enduring, meaningful and loving.

There are traditional ceremonies held by other tribes as “Give

Away Ceremonies.” What helped me to understand better why they

do this, is by realizing that Native Americans don’t place a

“value” on individual property or money. They feel that if there

is anything that another person should need or will benefit the

other family, then one should ‘give away’ that item. Not having

personal “ownership” of the land and its creatures is also

included in Native Americans’ belief systems.

Other people consider when they are giving time, money or energy

towards a cause as ways we are “paying forward.” Eastern cultures

include “karma” (or “kharma”) and “kismet” as reasons one may

wish to engage in positive actions. What ‘goes around, comes

around,” does not mean that there is not respect and value in

those caring actions!

Another way we may explain the process of helping one another

could be as “giving back to the world.” You may hear this come

out of famous people or philanthropic projects.

Powerful actions, to positively impact and support one another,

crosses across the world in so many other dimensions. Churches

send out their teams out for rescue and retreats, sometimes

labeling this, “Mission Work.” Serving others helps both the one

who is setting out on a mission, and the ones who are on the

receiving end.

My family’s three children engaged in community church functions

called, ecumenical peace camps and ecumenical youth groups.

It is appropriate to view this subject on a Sunday, but every

day is truly the way you carry out your faith or spiritual

expressions in respect to your God, Allah, Mother Nature, Higher

Being or your own personal inner beliefs. Agnostics and atheists

give with open hearts and hands, through their acts of kindness.

Witnesses to 9/11, Katrina, floods and famine relief, Red Cross

and other ways that people are constantly reaching out and going

beyond their everyday actions (and comfort zones) are so inspiring!

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said,

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that

no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

John Mc Mullin, who writes for a ‘healthy and better life’ local

magazine and other noteworthy journalism endeavors, tweeted:

“I can accept my wheels coming off the tracks as long as I trust

parts of my self know how to put my wheels back on the track.”

Another tweet by John:

“When the anguish and pain of what we think we know becomes

overwhelming, only then are we willing to explore what we don’t


I enjoy so many blogs with their famous quotations and photos,

I also revel in poetry. This local woman, Jennifer R. Harbor

shared this poem, (purposely written in lower case letters…):

“i am

not this Body

not these thoughts that consume me,

not these feelings that find me,

not these beliefs that drive me,

i am

not this used flesh scarred by existence,

i am

infinite spirit, limitless energy, borderless space,

i am the light of ancient stars

i am eternity expanding,

i am

not this Body

i am

radiant Light, living only to

Transcend this vessel

of eyelashes, fingers, lips, toes…”

JRH, 2007.


23 responses »

    • Thank you, Beth! I am always going to remember in Dancing with Wolves, how Kevin Costner’s character respected the way every part of an animal was used, no wasting a ‘kill.’ From using the bones to make needles to thread and sew up clothes of animal pelts. Also, giving away what one doesn’t need is a really good way to bring good karma! (Mixing Native American Indian with Hindu Indians!) Smiles, Robin

    • Thank you and it was different to read about the ‘give away’ ceremony. I think somewhere I had learned about their helping one another, could have even been in the children’s animated movie, Pocahontas! We are constantly learning from each other, here!

  1. So many great thoughts here. I like this one “When the anguish and pain of what we think we know becomes overwhelming, only then are we willing to explore what we don’t know.”
    Thanks for that πŸ™‚

    • I think that one would have been helpful to me, about 8 years ago, while going through my divorce… I am not on Twitter or FB, but like to read John Mc Mullin’s columns in the two natural foods magazines I find at Delaware Community Market.

    • You are most welcome for Jennifer’s poem. I am so happy that this may have been a good post! It is true, when you are busy helping someone else, it is hard to remember your own up’s and down’s. I like those words, ‘best medicine,’ Jill! Thank you!

      • I am very good friends with Joanne Shenandoah, who is a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and a Iroquois. I have been to events at her house and feel honored to be included as they have shown me Native traditions and customs. I was standing at the edge of the stage when she and her sister were the first acts to perform at Woodstock 1994, and their Native American songs are amazingly beautiful. Thanks, Robin.

  2. I love JRH’s poem Robin, thank you for sharing. I am not of religious background or nature, but for those who are, I accept their thoughts and beliefs. There are many ways of being or acting as if having a faith. As you have written, kindness, willingness to help those in need. Sharing, giving and being there to lend a helping hand is equally as satisfying and gratifying. Thank you for sharing the traditions. Lovely post.

    • I really appreciated this reblog, Jonathan! I was off at a picnic and did not get back to many of my posts till today! Thank you for also adding a great title and commentary! Smiles, Robin

  3. I think one difference…to be honest…between Native american generosity and that of a believer in Christ…in that the Potlatch is generally for one’s tribe or related people. Agape love as practiced (when practiced) by Christians is directed outward toward the unrelated—-and even antagonistic—groups and individuals in the world. Just a thought to remember. πŸ™‚

      • WHEW!!!! The way I was feeling at the time (filled with rejection) I honestly wondered what your response was going to be! I should have known better. Please forgive me for doubting you! πŸ™‚

  4. You are correct that the Pacific NW First Nations people celebrated a gifting ceremony we came to call a potlatch. Europeans who came from a barter or market economy could not comprehend the gifting economy, which was in part the native people’s way of re-distributing wealth. There was prestige in having sufficient wealth to share it by giving it away, and relationships between tribes grew stronger over time based on this concept.

    One thing we can all relate to is that generosity is seldom forgotten. I believe that giving simply because you can is reason enough. That is not to say one must gain prestige from giving. A friend of mine once told me the best gift is the one in which no one but the receiver knows about it. That is an ideal I continue to strive to achieve. – Mike

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