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Service Reading April 12, 2009

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Howard Thurman
The Good Deed
The Inward Journey, pg. 43-44


What happens when you do a good deed that meets some urgent need in the life of another person? Do you share with the person anything beyond the deed that is done, beyond the gift that is given?


Suppose the deed done and the gift given were the outward expression of an inward urge? Suppose that necessity to give were an inner necessity, generated by the discovery within yourself that your life is marked off from another life by the thinnest lines?


It is a world-shattering disclosure that the stream of life is a single stream, though it takes various forms. By prayer, by the deep inward gaze which opens the eyes of the soul to behold the presence of God, one feels the steady rhythm of life itself. The deep hunger to be understood is at last seen to be one and the same with the hunger to understand.


Out of such an experience a new perspective emerges. Consciously now, the mission of life becomes that of achieving in act what one has experienced in insight. One is ever on the hunt for openings in others through which this may be achieved. Human need in all of its dimensions is the swinging door into the innermost life of another. If a person is moved from within their own spirit to do the deed of ministering to the need of another, it follows that the good deed is a meeting place for the mingling of one life with another. What one has experienced in insight, they now achieve in the deed. What a difference giving makes now. It is no longer an offering merely of money or time or services, viewed as a sacrifice or a cause for merit, recognition, or glory. It is a simple sacrament, involving all of a person as their spirit moves through the swinging door of need into the very citadel of another’s spirit.

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