Plant the seeds of love in your hearts; let them grow into trees of service; shower the sweet fruits of bliss, and share this bliss with all.

                                                                                   —Sathya Sai Baba, 23 Nov 1972 (1)

May I serve them some home-made soup?

It all began in 1984, when a devotee of Sathya Sai Baba living in Memphis, Tennessee, with her steadfast beliefs in Sai Baba’s teaching that “Service to man is service to God,” telephoned the Coalition for the Homeless and asked how and where she could serve some needy people with her home-made soup. The manager replied delightedly, “Our residents will be thrilled to eat home-made food.”

The determination and discipline of that one devotee paved the path for other devotees to join her over the next three decades. In her quest to get closer to God through service activities, she planted the seed of love. Fertilized with nourishing compassion, kindness, and generosity, this seed of love took root and grew into a towering tree of love, spreading its branches, rendering the landscape of many a heart beautifully green. Once the Memphis Sathya Sai Center formed in 1984, the homeless feeding became a regular Sai Center service project.

The meals are met with gratitude

Genesis House for the Homeless, a part of Catholic Charities, is a halfway house in downtown Memphis. It provides shelter and meals to people with multiple behavioral and psychological problems, criminal backgrounds, and substance abuse. The residents are taught various skills so they can re-enter the community as good citizens. Residents are allowed to stay from three to six months, and the facility accommodates approximately 45 people. Sai Center volunteers visit and serve lunch there once a month. The meal includes a casserole, soup, sandwich or pizza, salad, bread, dessert, and drinks. All meals are vegetarian, served after reciting a prayer to bless the food.

“Grateful”. . . “Thank God”. . . “God is great”. . . “We are grateful for caring people” . . . “Thank God for you folks” . . . “Thank you . . . thank you so much!” are the heartfelt comments we hear from residents, who usually line up long before the meals are served.

During the years of recession and economic crisis in this country, the need for assistance has kept growing; hot, sumptuous meals are truly welcomed by the residents. They also welcome the friendship and compassionate words of the adults and Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) students. (2) Questions such as “Would you like more?” are encouraging and reassure the residents that there are people who care about them.

Numerous spiritual gifts experienced from this service

Engaging in this service has brought about a real sense of community to the 15 to 17 families of Sai devotees.

One of the devotees said, “This service activity has really changed my perspective. I used to complain about the things I don’t have, but when I looked at these people who are worried about their two daily meals, I stopped complaining and thanked the Lord for giving me the ability to share.”

For another devotee, serving lunch to others is a wonderful way to teach her son about love in action. She feels his young mind will surely imbibe Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings when he sees how a simple act of love can transform so many people and himself. He will realize God has allowed him this opportunity to uplift himself, for one has to earn God’s grace even to serve.

Another devotee says that the satisfaction she gets after serving the homeless has softened her heart. She carries this feeling home, so her children and husband actually encourage her to engage in this service opportunity more often. She is grateful to Sai Baba, for his example and teachings have called her to help others.

Two volunteer families have discovered they enjoy doing things together and are doubly appreciative of their good fortune now that they have become friends. They are thankful for this opportunity and the wonderful experience of serving others.

Another devotee feels Sai Baba’s invisible presence whenever she takes food to the shelter.

Another devotee is thankful to Sai Baba for inspiring her to donate. She never hesitates to donate food; the Lord has taken care of her needs, and she believes “what goes around comes around.” She finds that whenever she is unselfish and loving, she gets it back triple-fold.

Yet another devotee tells of her respect and love for Sai Baba. She feels she can depend on her Sai family anytime; they always include her lovingly in all of the Center’s service activities. She is willing to do anything to make the community a better place, where people are united and care about and respect each other.

"If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks."                                                            ~ Deuteronomy 15:7

Service is “service to God

Sai Baba teaches that we should never think of providing food as “giving food” but as “service to God,” for in reality we are serving the God residing in everyone. What a wonderful way to develop divine consciousness and the feeling of unity. When we serve the Lord by seeing him as present in those we serve, the Lord is giving us the opportunity to be closer to Him, and love swells in our hearts. The Memphis devotees have taken Divine Love as the occupant of their hearts and thus have transformed the service experience into a joyous activity for all.












Sathya Sai Baba Center of Memphis, TN.

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