“You do beautiful work!” The compliment bounced off the back wall of the tiny mountain wood shop like an echo. The target of the accolade seemed completely deaf. The nearby admirer repeated her praise directed point-blank at the busy-at-work wood craftsman. Stopping his work, he raised his head and timidly nodded quiet acknowledgment. Then, he quickly resumed his creation.
He was a master dulcimer-maker. His grey beard was a wiry hair-jungle; his face had the look of a man who had spent too much time frowning at the elements. The pockets of his faded overalls were filled with carving tools worn shiny from incessant use. Hanging from the rough walls of his North Georgia workshop hung dulcimers worthy a place in an elegant art museum.
“How do you do it?” another visitor asked, amazed at the artistry-in-the-making? The craftsman looked up from his woodwork like a musician interrupted in the middle of a performance. His low voice spoke forcefully. “When I forget about how it displays or my reputation and just focus on the grand music it will produce, the wood seems to join me like a partner.” There was a moment of silence in the shop–like the spectators had suddenly realized they were at a scared ceremony.
Great service comes from the soul of someone lost in the sacredness of helping. In its purest practice it is performed without interest in reciprocity. With complete attention on the target of the assistance and what is most needed to enhance, improve, repair or uplift, help is always helpful. Lost in service, all the components of the encounter work together like a partner.