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
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.
I 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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