All of nature is a yearning for service:
The cloud serves, and the wind, and the furrow.
Where there is a tree to plant, you be the one.
Where there is a mistake to undo, let it be you.
You be the one to remove the rock from the field,
The hate from human hearts,
And the difficulties from the problem.
There is joy in being wise and just,
But above all there is the beautiful,
The immense happiness of serving.
How sad the world would be if all was already done.
If there was no rosebush to plant,
No enterprise to undertake.
Do not limit yourself to easy tasks.
It's so beautiful to do what others dodge.
But don't fall prey to the error that only
Great tasks done can be counted as accomplishments.
There are small acts of service that are good ones:
Decoratively setting a table,
Putting some books in order,
Combing a little girl's hair.
That one over there is the one that criticizes,
This other one is the one that destroys.
You be the one that serves.
Serving is not a labor just for inferior beings.
God, who gives fruit and light, serves.
His name could be rendered thus: He Who Serves.
And he has his eyes on our hands,
And he asks us at the close of day:
"Did you render service today? To whom?
To a tree, to your friend, to your mother?"
Gabriela Mistral received the 1945 Nobel Prize for Literature. This poem is from the collection Tala recited on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of José Martí’s birth, in January 1953.
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you relate to the notion that serving is not a labor just for inferior beings? Can you share a time where you felt the beauty of doing what others dodge? How do we develop ourselves to experience deep gladness in small acts of service?