She runs the Pet Therapy program at the North Bay Regional Health Centre where Whinnie and I volunteer. We have gotten to know each other through the program and it turns out we have a connection that runs deeper than our dogs and need to help people.
I've noticed as I have gotten older I am always interested in meeting new people however making true friends isn't as easy as it used to be. The first time we met was a chance meeting at the hospital, at the pet therapy centre where I inquired about becoming a pet therapy handler.
She and I have a lot in common and besides that she is one smart lady who can teach me a lot.
We talked about mindfulness and the importance of service. We both have had elderly parents transition into a home and watched how people can make a difference. There's a difference between helping and serving. Helping is great, it makes the helper feel good about what they are doing but it doesn't always make the person being helped feel good. It can leave a feeling of 'I owe you', or worse still, guilt. Service on the other hand is something we do without expectation of praise or repayment.
In her article on the difference between service and helping Rachel Naomi Remen states "Helping incurs debt". When you help someone they owe you one. But serving, like healing, is mutual. There is no debt. I am as served as the person I am serving. When I help I have a feeling of satisfaction. When I serve I have a feeling of gratitude. These are very different things".
This is an interesting concept. I know I have felt the difference, and wasn't really sure what it was and why, now I know. While doing pet therapy for instance it is a service. We offer the quiet comfort of a willing dog and never expecting a favour in return, just grateful for the experience of doing it.
I know why we feel such a sense of peace with certain people when we are sick or in pain. They just do things for you without expectation or a fuss. They are doing what you cannot do for yourself and it is seamless. There isn't a feeling of guilt that sometimes surrounds people helping.
I know I will pay close attention to how I help or serve in the future.