Yesterday morning, I was talking to Him. By myself, I said, “I’m here to serve you. Let each step I take be in the name of serving you, but show me what it means to serve.”

All the while, it’s raining cats and dogs here in Izmir, so much so that its almost flooding. I was so caught up in my prayers that I didn’t hear the sounds coming from tiny kittens outside at half past seven in the morning. One part of me was thinking, “Hasan, they’re just kittens. Keep praying and then go to sleep.” The other side, though, didn’t say a word but prompted into toward action. So, I ran downstairs without further ado and opened the door. There they were, in the flooded garden, three kittens of a cat that had recently gave birth, and they were struggling. The mother was soaked and frightened as she hid in a corner. I went over and collected the kittens and placed them somewhere safe before drying them off and returning to bed. I then continued asking my questions.

I still wasn’t convinced that I had an answer, though. As I was deep in thought, a dear friend called and said she had read one of my articles. We talked for a while. I listened to her, opening my own heart and feeling hers. She then found her answer, and I went back to my questions…

I had already driven my daughter to her friend’s house a couple of hours ago, but my son said he was hungry, so I took a break from my thoughts and prepared lunch.

I later met with dear friends that day, taking photographs at their wedding. I chatted, I laughed, I hugged, and I danced…

But one thing still wasn’t clear in my mind: I was trying to serve, but how was I supposed to do it?

Another dear friend of mine called, and as we talked on the phone, my heart poured out at him. As I was talking to him, I was also talking to myself, and as I was listening to him, I was listening to myself. At that moment, it dawned on me! There I was, serving…

My magnificent ego and I thought that serving meant something like touching someone and healing cancer or joining a worldwide organization and becoming a bringer of light. I thought it meant somehow interfering with lives in a profound way, convincing the entire world to revolve the way I myself believed. I assumed serving involved being something like a walking United Nations…

In reality, serving was rescuing those drowning kittens in the flooded garden. It was opening my heart to a dear one. It’s about driving your daughter to a friend’s house and preparing a meal for your son. It is about taking photographs for a friend’s wedding. It is even about just being there with your friends. Everything that seemed ordinary to my ego was actually a form of serving. It was my existing nature.

Yet I hadn’t wanted to accept it, so instead I looked for it in grand gestures. What I actually perceived as serving was all the actions that I thought would earn me points to use at my final reckoning with Him. In every “good” deed I performed, my eyes would look up as if I was saying, “Father! Look! I did something good! Where’s  my reward?”

On one hand, I know that this is the calculating mind, and there’s a deep feeling of deprivation behind it. But I am done with beating myself up for noticing such reactions. On the contrary, I also see the naive child waiting for his reward, and when I delve even deeper, I see the helpless baby in need…

Remembering the saying of “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”, I see how I turned into a squeaking baby. I see how I transformed this into motivation for action, because I used to believe that if I made the maximum fuss, my needs would be fulfilled. If I couldn’t get what I wanted, my shoulders would immediately drop, and I would become this constantly complaining, nagging, self-pitying creature, hoping that maybe He would then see me and solve my problems.

But I’m not a helpless baby anymore. I am an adult who knows what he needs. Of course, that beautiful, flower-scented baby and that little boy waiting for his reward with a bright and curious look in his eyes are also in me. I love their naivety so much…

But now I am an adult, and not just because of my physical age. It’s also the age of my consciousness, too. I have to take responsibility for what I create. If a thorn pricks my finger, I know I’m the one that touched that thorn. I know my capabilities, and I know my duty.

To serve is the very essence of my nature. It’s enough to simply be there, doing whatever is needed at that moment. He manifests it through us…

Sometimes it can be rescuing a kitten or creating a website that will reach hundreds of thousands of people. Sometimes it can be just feeding your children or even yourself. To serve is in my being—what other answers could I look for?