When I was fourteen, my paternal grandmother came to stay with us for about 6 months.

At night when I’d walk past her room, she’d be sitting on the bed reading her bible.

We weren’t religious, so this nightly act of devotion intrigued me.

Once, I interrupted her and asked “Grandma, why do we have religion?”

She looked up at me and said, “Because man has always needed to believe in something greater than himself.” Then she lowered her head and continued to read.

I was surprised,  I thought she was going to talk to me about God, heaven, hell, and destiny. Instead, she told me the truth. 

I left her room and thought about how early humans must have been enthralled by the vastness of the night sky…and how they must have felt so small in comparison.

That image of smallness was humbling.

We are inherently self-centered beings.  We think about ourselves incessantly and we think that everyone else is thinking about us too.  We worry and complain and just get lost in our self-centeredness.

Serving something bigger or greater than the individual self is a necessary counter balance to our self-centeredness. 

Serving something greater than we are helps us to get out of our own heads and helps us to find ourselves in others.  It creates compassion and reminds us of our link with the Infinite Universe.

In this way we are able to experience ourselves as both big (self-centered) and small (part of a whole).  It’s beautiful.


Photo Credit: Timothy Paul Smith