Friday, February 14, 2014

On the topic of service...

"But he should have a yellow belt!"

That one statement has been rattling around in my brain for nearly a week, what it means to me and how I reflect my work based on it. It's all to to do with service, and I admit my feelings are complex and mixed. Since my mind will not allow sleep, writing seems like the best answer.

As a small forewarning, this blog post is primarily about the SCA and my views on service within it, but I guess we could use this to describe any number of mundane tasks/roles along with it.

Service is the absolute core of the SCA in my opinion, because we are a volunteer-run hobby group. Every single person I know in Trimaris volunteers to do all the work they do, giving up time and hard earned money for a hobby they feel is worth investing, Officers, Artisans, Event Staff and Fighters all volunteer, all do service of some kind to make us move and grow. We would not have events if not for the people who give up MONTHS of their lives to making a place exciting and filled with wonder and fun for all the participants. We have a whole host of artisans and fighters who make up the officer roles in local and Kingdom groups, all dedicating YEARS of their lives to the art of service and helping us all play our game. Newcomer and old-fart alike work in concert to help make an event happen. But where are all the cries for yellow belts with this legion of volunteers? Why do not Peers cluck their tongue and question the lack of a belt on this horde of helpers?

This has been a question bothering me for many days, and I feel I have finally found an answer that soothes my soul: service is required of all, but not all are required to have the heart of a servant.

An Autocrat serves because he wants to. Maybe he delights in planning parties, or enjoys the organizational aspects of the job. In any case, he serves because it brings him joy an pleasure and that is a good thing. My fighters marshell the field because they enjoy watching the fighting, helping their combat brothers continue their skills, and because they enjoy it. Same goes for any event role or officer role, rare indeed is the person who takes up the task who doesn't derive some kind of pleasure from the task.

Then there are those who feel compelled to serve, those for whom the situation is thrust upon them. Maybe a lunch cook falls ill, perhaps a flat tire prevented a marshall from arriving to run the tourney...regardless if the reason they find service thrust upon them. Kind and good people will do the work if it is needed, if they possess the skills to help, they may grumble about it an make snide social media bursts later but they understand at its core the SCA is service based and all are required at times to help shoulder the load. There is nothing wrong with this service either, if its commonplace then you have a volunteer issue which is a whole other topic better addressed by those wiser than I.

Neither of these, to me, show the heart of a servant. Yes they're all necessary and greatly appreciated, but these are not reflections of the heart of a servant to me. These are not the people who get hounded by Pelicans or others with questions of belts or Peer relationships, but these are all good and honorable people nonetheless. Award them, give them largesse and praise their helpful hearts and willing hands!

There is a Baron and Baroness I know who both truly have the heart of a servant, and I firmly believe that is a basis for why they sought out those roles in the first place. Both could easily fall into the first category I described, but they go beyond that. They do the work without thought to themselves, just to better promote the health of their local group. Their first and foremost thought every time I speak with them is how they can help others have fun. They give up time, money and even some sanity in the effort to serve. They dress in regal clothes and attach retainers to their sides not out of conceit or selfishness; they strive to create that Middle Ages image so well that one of their populace will be lost in the moment. They argue and slave for hours over awards and largesse, not to reward their chosen but to uplift and raise up those who need it most. Their hearts are bent to the task of what they can do to help, and are often oblivious of what they give up to be so supporting; for them they do not give but gain tenfold.

The heart of a servant means not only do you gladly offer assistance when able, you feel compelled. You feel it is your duty and pleasure to serve your fellow man, to raise him up alongside you. You don't think twice about stepping up and offering aid where it is needed, because why would you? You take pride in a work accomplished, not just because of the glow of a finished task but because you did it knowing it would better someone else. You would do it all again, and you will, because nothing warms the heart more than seeing the smile on a fellows face in gratitude of your work.

An individual with the heart of a servant is drawn to leadership roles, not because of a lust for power but because of a clarity of vision. They want to take charge of different aspects, take on various leadership roles, to see that a needed task is completed. Noticing a problem, noticing a niche and striving through all obstacles to accomplish the goal they set forth. They're the people who see the problem no one else has, an found a solution that we all ask ourselves how we could have lived without it previously. They are driven to leadership because ensuring a job is done is as necessary as eating and sleeping.

This to me is what makes the heart of a servant. It's not just found in the Pelicans, it's found all over. You find it in the Laurel who helps her little seedlings master a difficult stitch and perfect their garb. You see it in the aging Knight who still week after week take to the fields and practices to teach anyone who desires his skills. You see it in the older-than-dirt Trimarian who takes the simple largesse made from a beginner feastcrat and cherish it like gold. You see it in the minister of youth giving up her whole weekend to help raise and grow her small horde of children. These are all people with the heart of a servant to me, people for whom perhaps the question I started this blog post with is asked often and repeatedly.

As for me, to answer the question for myself, because it's not my passion. I love to serve, it makes me feel warm and squishy inside knowing I helped something work or that I made someones day better by helping with this task or that. But my passion is Art, to understand it and recreate it and even create it! It is my driving goal, that which I push myself to learn and grow in the most. My service flows from my art, I love to take care of people and feed them in the most period ways I can find. My heart may be that of a servant, but my soul is that of an artist.

Anyway...these are just my silly opinions that have rattled out of my brain and onto paper. Would love some feedback and/or thoughts on what I wrote here.