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Emanuel Swedenborg makes the following statement in Arcana Caelestia: “Real worship of God consists in performing uses”

Our first reaction to this quotation might be one of puzzlement – what are uses? And then we might begin to realise that what Swedenborg is talking about is the ‘things we do for others’ or our ‘usefulness’. And yet don’t we often dream of just lazing about and doing nothing? We may even feel that life in heaven might be just like that.

And yet most of us do find that there are things which we really enjoy doing and which could absorb a great deal of our time. What talents do we have? Are we good at cooking, drawing, writing, housework, repairing the car, DIY, talking, listening … etc. But do we use these abilities just for own pleasure and satisfaction or do we use them for the benefit of others? Obviously we have to do a great deal for ourselves in order to live day by day, but do we balance that with activities that meet other people’s needs?

I find that it is only possible to find the strength to be of use to others if I take sensible care of myself first.

But it is important to feel that we are of use to someone else.

For a large part of our lives most of us are mainly involved in earning a living and caring for our families and through these activities we probably gain the satisfaction of a job well done and the joy of providing for others needs.

And yet at other times we may be unable to find employment or we may be unwell or on our own or retired, or we may feel useless and a burden to others.

caringI believe that a deep sense of peace, contentment and fulfilment comes from making others happy. It stems from loving and caring for those around us, even if, at first we do not particularly like them or enjoy what we are doing.

But it is hard for those people who are ill or disabled or lonely to feel useful. And at times they often feel a burden on those who care for them. It is often easier to give than receive, and I am full of admiration for those who can always receive love and care with a smile and words of gratitude.

Jesus summed up how we should love by saying that we should love God and love our neighbour as ourselves. And as Swedenborg advises, we should seek a deeper happiness by showing our love and worship of God in looking for ways in which we can live a life that is of use to others.

 

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