Why I Serve
by Toni Romano
I’m curious about what motivates people to volunteer; to give their time, their talents, and their money to this Work. What motivates us to serve, besides the greatness of the Edgar Cayce readings? I’d like to share an account of how I came to this service, and would love to hear your story as well.
I was brought up in an evangelical Christian church that emphasized giving one’s ALL to the Lord. That meant our time, our talents and our tithe—and more if there was a building campaign or project that needed additional funds! This was not questioned in our home. If the church doors were open, we were there! We had to take a city bus, transfer in the middle of town, and take a second bus to the church. And when the paycheck was cashed, the tithe went into the envelope for Sunday morning offering. This was during WW II, and our father was in the South Pacific defending our country! So the “we” was my mother, maternal grandmother, and sister.
At the tender age of seven, I found my way to the altar to give my heart to the Lord. I knew from a young age that I was to dedicate my life in service to God. I taught Sunday school in my teens, held offices in our Youth Fellowship, attended our church college, majored in Christian Education, and married a ministerial student. Church activities and church members made up most of my life until I was in my thirties.
While my husband was co-pastor of a church after seminary, the civil rights movement was born, and we became very active. The church “fathers” determined that being active in civil rights was not an acceptable expression of the ministry and took the credentials away from three of the activist ministers, including my husband.
You might take away credentials, and you might change where you work, but a life of service doesn’t change. It didn’t matter whether I was volunteering at my children’s school, teaching in a public school classroom, working in a community program, or working in a state bureaucracy. The same sense of dedication and commitment motivated me to give my all in service. However, what I experienced at this time in my life was that service in itself was not enough. My soul was hungry. I began searching for more meaning in my life.
One door after another began opening—a weekend of yoga with my sister, an interest in astrology (learning about the blueprint I was born with), learning to meditate with a co-worker, and, as fate would have it, connecting with someone at a state government meeting that became my first spiritual teacher and counselor!
That relationship brought me to the Edgar Cayce material and the A.R.E in 1983. I was making a major life change, leaving a 26-year marriage, a comfortable home, and striking out on my own for the first time in my life! And here’s this “little girl” from the cornfields of Illinois moving to the big city of Chicago. I knew only two people where I found my first job, and that was it! My counselor told me to find an Edgar Cayce study group. Who was this Edgar Cayce? What would I be getting myself into? If she said it, I trusted it!
I searched and searched the papers until one day I found an A.R.E. program announcement: Finding Your Soul’s Purpose, with Mark Thurston. I went to the program, became a member, and found an “A Search for God” study group four blocks from where I was living and working! I put my foot on the path right then and there!
The Cayce principles have opened me to more understanding of “a life of service” that began when I was seven years old. I now see that this choice was actually my IDEAL. Each time a group exercise focused on discovering ones Ideal, I would come up with Service—no surprise. Looking at the Ideal from a spiritual, mental, and physical perspective gave much more meaning to Service. I found myself at one point, honing the Ideal by adding Loving Service. That made me more aware of “how” I was giving service.
When I became so engrossed in the busyness of doing the work, I found myself neglecting the spiritual practices to keep me centered. I didn’t like how my life was going! The next time I worked with my Ideal, I added Joyous to Loving Service to remind me that it is not the doing that is as important as the way we are being when we are serving. So that has brought me to an Ideal to Be Love, Be Joy, and Be Peace.
And that’s my story… so far! If you are inspired to share your story of what motivates you to give your time, your talents, and your financial support to this Work, I would love to hear from you. Love and blessings!
Toni Romano holds an MS degree in Human Development Counseling from the University of Illinois. An A.R.E. Life Member, she has been a member of a study group for 30 years. She worked as the Coordinator of the Midwest Heartland Region and Chicago Center for 9 years before moving to Virginia Beach where she worked as Outreach Coordinator for A.R.E. headquarters for 9 years. She is presently a facilitator for the Personal Transformation and Courage Institute, Inc. online at TransformationandCourage.org. She volunteers for the A.R.E. Call Center and is an active member of Glad Helpers Healing Prayer Group. Please send her your stories at ConnectWithToni@gmail.com.