THE COUNSELOR'S CORNER: The service of love

 By Fred Cavaiani

Mother’s Day celebrations inspire me.   I observe my two daughters interact with their children with loving acts of service and dedication.  What a commitment of love. One daughter has two children, the other has four. They are consistently attentive to the needs of each child. So many little things to remember! I am always inspired as I watch these two young women talk, play and interact with their children.  I notice now more than ever before the unbelievable memory my wife has in looking for the right gift for each grandchild on special occasions. If a grandchild needs something or one of our daughters need us to babysit or help out in some way, everything stops until that is accomplished.

They have taught me that Love is much more than kind words.  It is kind and compassionate actions that define love.  For years I have given many talks and written many articles on the importance of loving others.  Mothers put into practice the wonderful theory of Love. 

In every culture it can be easy to talk about Love.  Songs and books can describe the beauty of love.  But real love is action over a long period of time.  When I experience a concrete action I am always inspired to make some practical changes in my life.  Watching the patience of a parent with a crying baby or toddler teaches me to have patience.  Experiencing the never tiring energy of a mother taking care of her children challenges me to realize that love is action whenever action is needed.

Powerful changes happen when there is a foundation of practical actions of service. Actions of love promote attitudes of love.  Watching a child give a treasured toy to another sibling shouts loudly to me of letting go of things that possess me.  I am always impressed by the service actions of people who prepare meals, make coffee before important meetings,  and offer a helping hand to others in need.  I was at a baseball game with three good friends last Friday night.  I have known each man for a number of years now.  Each of them has shown me that love is really service. I have witnessed their positive actions of service by helping others in need.  I have another good friend who makes it a practice of visiting nursing homes to visit people who are disabled and cannot go anywhere. 

I am good at writing lofty ideas about love, service, prayer and meditation.  I can encourage people to improve their lives through meditation, exercise and showing compassion for others. But real inspiration in any culture happen when we can observe actions of service to other people.  The commitment of parents toward children is a life-long journey.  So is the commitment of friends toward one another.

These little acts of selfless service inspire us to reflect upon our own personal lives and see what changes need to be made.  When the needs of the poorest in a society or a family system are neglected, the whole system or culture can become narcissistic and self-centered.  Acts of service toward others in practical actions create a sense of harmony and positive regard toward other people. At the baseball game on Friday night I went to buy food for everyone. I had to go to three different stands to get the food.  At the last stand one of the concession workers gave me a big holder for my food. She didn’t have to do this because I had purchased much of it from other concessions. It was simply a kind act of service. But it filled me with positive feelings.  It happens every time someone might hold a door open for me or greet me with a warm hello and smile.  I enjoy tipping generously at restaurants. It gives me an experience of gratitude for service and seems to help me become more open and kind to the rest of the world.

Actions of service define the meaning of Love.  My words will be empty if they are not grounded in actions of service. 


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage & family therapist and psychologist with a private practice in Troy.  He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday.  He can be reached at 248-362-3340.  His e-mail address is: and his website is