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Insights through service

Maria Rosa Martínez joined the TS at the age of 15 and has been active in the Annie Besant Lodge in San Rafael, Argentina ever since.  She participates in any task required.  For example, in 1973 she helped to start a theosophically-oriented local radio broadcast, The Art of Learning, which continues to this day (twice a week for over 40 years!).  Since 2009, she has been part of the volunteer team translating The Theosophist magazine into Spanish. (Spanish readers can find the issues here: Maria Rosa is currently the Secretary of the Inter-American Theosophical Federation.  She helps realise the three objects of the TS through a variety of activities and tries to make them a living force in her own life.  Above all, she loves to make it possible for others to contact theosophical teachings.

When land was bought in 1980 to create a Theosophical Centre, Maria Rosa and her husband Ernesto joined the project with enthusiasm and had the joy of seeing it take beautiful form over the years.  In this short article, she talks about a truth she has learned through her work at the Centre.

A Moment of Insight and Encouragement in Service

When we feel called to service – in the street, our place of work, at home, or at a TS branch or Centre, we soon find that there never seems to be enough time, money or helping hands for all that is crying out to be done.  However, an insight I have gained in the course of my service work is this: if the cause is genuinely philanthropic, unselfish and impersonal, it always finds support.  There is an unknown power that helps us at the proper time.  It may appear in the form of a donation to permit paying for something, or of the arrival of the right person, or as a sudden injection of energy into an exhausted body.

I would like to relate a true story that illustrates this conviction.

In 1980 a piece of land with nothing on it was bought for the Theosophical Society in Argentina with money gathered from 11 members who thought that the dream of a Theosophical Centre was possible.  It was known that the task would be hard; it proved even harder than expected!

Most of the work, except that of the construction itself, was done by a very small group of members who were constantly present.  But age, family and financial problems whittled the group away over the years.  The work required a great physical effort and certain skills were just not available at that time.

One winter they were offered the wonderful gift of 200 poplars and the loan of a pick-up vehicle to move them.  The opportunity was exceptional and the work of picking them up and planting them could not wait.  The roots of the trees were without protection and the temperature was below 5°C.  A neighbouring farmer agreed to help unload the trees and protect the roots from the freezing temperature overnight before planting the next day.  It was a working day and only one member was available to collect the trees.  She had a two and a half hour break in her schoolteaching schedule and that was all.  She couldn’t call on her husband, because he was working.  She had a quick lunch then the race started.  Go and get the pick-up.  Drive to the nursery, load up the trees, go to the TS land, meet the farmer, unload the trees and protect their roots.  Return the pick-up vehicle and rush back to school.  Have you ever tried moving 200 saplings?  Well, when she arrived at the TS land with the trees, the neighbouring farmer was nowhere in sight.  The minutes ticked by and no help was on hand.  Impossible to unload and carry 200 trees all alone.  Disappointed and tired, our member looked into the distance and couldn’t see or hear anyone for miles.  She looked within, desperate, trying to find the strength and courage to face the situation.  At that very moment, another neighbour came into view.  “What are you up to?” he asked.  When she explained her plight, he warmly offered to help her with the task at hand.  They worked side by side in rhythm and she was able to arrive back at her school just as the bell was ringing.

There are about 2,000 trees planted in the Theosophical Centre now.  Those 200 poplars are amongst them.

How was it that a kind neighbour arrived at that crucial moment in that isolated spot?  We may lack a rational answer, but to me it is simple: the work had to be done.  Will was present, the ‘I’ was absent, and it was accomplished.  Let me repeat the insight – the conviction – that I wish to share: if the cause is genuinely philanthropic, unselfish and impersonal, it will always find support.  There is an unknown power that provides help just when it is needed.  I wonder if any of you have had the same kind of experience?

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