Advent Week 4: Anything is possible with God

by Alumni / 17. December 2014 22:26

“For nothing will be impossible for God”. This is a powerful quote from the Gospel reading for this fourth Sunday of Advent. As the angel Gabriel tells Mary that she will become pregnant with Jesus she is reminded that though this may seem beyond the realm of possibility, God can make anything a reality, even a virgin birth. Mary accepts this guidance from Gabriel and opens her heart up to God’s will and His plan for her. 

 

Mary's trust in this Gospel is so beautiful to me because it is unconditional. She doesn't demand to have everything spelled out for her. She is strong and faithful enough to accept God's plan with what is given to her. This struck a very personal chord with me because I often find it so difficult to do this. Instead of letting God work through me and reveal Himself to me in His time, I choose instead to stress and work myself up trying to find my perfect plan. In the end this rarely leaves me more enlightened, just more frantic and less satisfied.

 

This Advent season offers us all the opportunity to take a step back and let God unfold what He has in mind for us. Like Mary we are called to listen and accept, even though we may not have all the answers, even though His plan may be unlike anything we had ever envisioned for ourselves before. We are reminded through the gift of His son this season that He will always be there for us, looking out for His children and guiding us toward what is right for us. We can be free to relax and trust in Him, knowing that this trust makes anything possible. 

 

Diana Giunta

AV Alum

Chicago 2012-2013

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Alumni

Advent Week 3: Be Who You Want to Be

by Alumni / 11. December 2014 18:09

Be Who You Want to Be


This is an Advent Interactive Activity:) 

 

2 Minutes of Thought: Remember what kind of person you want to be. What are the words you want people to use when describing you?

 

2 Minutes of Refection:  Why are you doing what you are doing?

 

 Read: I am teaching right now and there are days when I can totally lose sight of why I took this job. I just want to get through the day. Or one of the teenagers is making me mad and I wish they were not in my class. Or I start not criticizing students. Or I just want to get the job done and have it be as easy a day as possible... But that is not why I took the job.

 I took the job to help struggling teenagers who need someone to listen. I wanted to be light in their journey. I wanted to thrive in creativity. I wanted to be a person who brings joy to each person’s day. 

It is easy to lose sight, but come back to the soul of who you are. It doesn’t matter what the future holds, focus on the present moment. Don’t wait, be who you are. Love with all your strength and might…. And you will find energy filling you.  The joy of serving the Lord will enter you. You will once again find that sense of being alive, of having passion, of living with purpose, of living in love. You will find life overflowing. 

 

Write: On a piece of paper write a few words describing what kind of person you want to be. Tape that little paper on your desk at work, or your dresser, or your windshield. (Put it somewhere you will see it every day). 

 

Do: Each day have at least one interaction with someone demonstrating who you want to be. 

 

Transform: Little by little is it. A small change goes a long way:) 

 

Merry Christmas!

 

“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.

In all circumstances give thanks,

for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”- Advent Reading 2,  1 THES 5:16-24

 

Caitlin Risk

AV Alum, Peru 2011

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Advent Week 2: Prepare the Way of the Lord

by Alumni / 5. December 2014 12:31

I don’t think you could hear the message of today’s readings any clearer if it was shouted through a megaphone two feet away. Prepare the way of the Lord. Well, that doesn’t seem too hard since preparation and planning come second nature to me. After all, I prepare for each day. Physically I get out of bed each morning, prepare my outfit for work, prepare my coffee and lunch, prepare for meetings at work and, ultimately, I prepare for bed. Mental preparations are just as necessary to be successful each day. While I’m lying in bed each morning I tell myself I can’t set another alarm, it’s time to do this thing. I tell my mind to be patient as it prepares to find the train is delayed again. I have to prepare to feel completely unprepared at work for when I encounter someone whose name I don’t remember, or when I completely forgot everything I learned the day before. Sometimes we prepare so much that we forget to experience what it is we are preparing for and why. We lose sight of the bigger picture.

The readings today are asking for us to prepare something much more difficult than our minds and our bodies. We are called to prepare our hearts this Advent season and because that’s not something we do too often, it requires a level of diligence and intentionality. It’s like showing up to a party, dressed to the nines with a can’t-stop-me-now attitude, but forgetting the gift—or maybe even forgetting what/who the party is for! So still we are pondering, how can we prepare the way?

The second reading says, “what sort of persons ought you to be.” We know the answer, but the answers to the people we should be versus the people we are are often very different. This morning I was sitting in the train station passing time before walking over to work. In front of my bench I noticed a police officer talking to a woman. I didn’t think anything of it at first, assuming it was business as usual. From the little I overheard in the first few minutes I realized that this woman was mentally and financially unstable. As many people know, that’s not very uncommon in the city of Philadelphia so I continued to listen, but expected the officer to leave once she brought her bags inside. But he stayed. And stayed. And stayed. I left 30 minutes later and he was still there. He made a few phone calls to have her picked up and he waited with her. He talked to her—not as if she was homeless or mentally ill, but as a person. More importantly, he listened. In the busyness of our daily lives, I rarely see people choose a compassionate route over a convenient one.

This man’s actions emulate the themes of justice and kindness present in today’s readings. Small acts of mindfulness, presence and patience can help create a more just world—the way God intended it to be. I think preparing the way of the Lord begins with opening our eyes to God’s presence around us each and every day. When we feel that grace, we are able to open our hearts, preparing them for the beauty that awaits.

Shannon Keough

AV Alum, Lawrence 2010-2011

 

Questions for further reflection:

How will you prepare your heart this Advent?

Where have you witnessed great or small acts of kindness?

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Alumni

Advent: Week 1: On Waiting in Hope and On Finding God in the Present

by Alumni / 29. November 2014 18:18

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up. - Anne Lamott

These past few weeks, I have been reflecting a great deal on what it means to wait in hope.  As Catholics entering into the Advent season, we begin by reflecting upon the hopeful waiting for the arrival of our Lord.

Sometimes, it feels as though hope is impossible to spot in the darkness, but as Anne Lamott so wisely shares, often hope begins in darkness.  There were many times during my year in South Africa as an Augustinian Volunteer, where I experienced a feeling of hopelessness.  Often I felt that the problems I witnessed were so incredibly vast that I could not possibly make a change, a difference, a dent.  However, as I was reading through my South African blog in preparation for this reflection, I realized that my blog entries were full of hopefulness and beauty and laughter. And these words were the result of showing up, they were the result of getting out of bed each day and loving the world and loving each other and loving God.  And, while waiting in hope for a more peaceful and joy filled world, what a gift it is to be able to find God currently in our midst.

The most hopeful moments of my life have often come from moments in my life that seemed the most challenging.  These moments often came in the midst of waiting for God to show up.  But as we prepare our heart and homes for the coming of Christ, let us not forget to be aware of the God already present in our lives. 

Fr. Jim Martin, SJ reflected this week about joyful waiting by saying “Find God today—but wait in hope for a beautiful future.” During this Advent season, I pray that we each might wait in joyful hope for a more beautiful world while also recognizing the beautiful presence of God in our midst right now.

 

Becca Little
AV Alum
South Africa 2010 

 

Questions for further reflection:

In what ways have you "found God today"?

In what ways are you being called to "wait in hope" this advent season?

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Alumni | Internationals 2010

The Spiritual Pharmacy

by r.magargee / 28. November 2014 13:49

One of the greatest gifts of my AV year has been the presence of God in my life. Each and every day, I feel God’s Love through other people who I encounter. One of the roles of my position is to help coordinate and organize grade school retreats, where about 400 kids from local grammar schools come to my high school to develop their relationship with God. Weeks of preparation are required for arranging for each retreat through countless phone calls with the school principals, making hundreds of copies of handouts that the students use, as well as working with Father Tom to make sure all of the loose ends are tied for the retreat. The actual days of the retreats are extremely busy, so much so that I come to the school an hour early to prepare the chapel and get everything in place. On the retreat days, I am the main point person for everyone on the retreat, and I spend a lot of time making sure everyone is comfortable. I do this all while continuing my daily duties, which include leading morning prayer, helping out in the cafeteria during each lunch period, working on community service opportunities for the high school students, and collecting money for our Peruvian Missions. I essentially had to be in multiple places at the same time and this scared me- I was extremely overwhelmed and prayed to God for his help. 

Throughout the day, I can genuinely say that I saw God at work through my colleagues. My fellow staff members from nearly every department at the school: admissions, maintenance, main office, development always approached me and asked how they could help. I was able to guide them to do some of the numerous jobs that were expected of me. As the day passed on, we were able to deliver a great experience for the grammar school kids and it was a huge success, so much so that all of the teachers and students kept on saying how they cannot wait to come back next year! As I went to sleep that night, I thanked God, because He was in the hallways with me that day, He was in the other staff members who didn’t hesitate to go out of their daily tasks to help me. Even now, I feel as though each of the workers were not guided by me, but rather by the Holy Spirit, without it, none of what transpired on that Thursday would have happened. 

One of the most powerful lessons I have learned this year is to let the Holy Spirit guide me in everything I do. At first I was extremely overwhelmed with all of my jobs and I felt as though I was not really helping anyone, then I let the Holy Spirit into my life. Since then, I have never had a bad moment because I know that every moment I encounter this year is bigger than me, so I just need to be a helping hand for everyone.

Another role I have in my position involves bringing a group of students to a local Homeless shelter to serve them a warm meal every Wednesday evening. This has quickly became one of the highlights of my week, and I truly look forward to serving those in need with my students. It gives me a great opportunity let the Rita students discover and foster a fire to serve others. The homeless shelter requires each guest to register with them and gives them a card, which also helps them get federal benefits such as food stamps. The homeless guests will wait up to 10 hours in cold temperatures to receive a meal. I really make it a point of emphasis to talk to each and every person while I am serving them their meals. These people have become my friends so much so that before they leave, they will always come up and give me a hug and say “ Thanks again, I’ll see you next week Rory!” As Thanksgiving came around, I never even hesitated to spend Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving Day at the homeless shelter. The homeless shelter is a place where I firmly believe I am interacting with God every time I am there, especially through the power of conversation; furthermore, I believe that God is talking to me through my guys at the homeless shelter. The conversations I have with them are tremendous and full of substance. An example includes when I was talking to Terry, a man in his early fifties who has three kids and is homeless. On that certain day, I was stressed out about some earlier events that occurred in the day. I asked him what frustrates him on a daily basis, and that is when he hit me with a simple answer. He said, “Nothing, Rory, nothing anyone does frustrates me because I trust in my faith with God.” He began to say, there are plenty of people who have more luxuries than him, such as a home, money, cars, etc, but they are not as joyful as him. He summarized this with a quote from the Bible that I am very familiar with: “not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, fulfill the lusts thereof.” This comes from Romans 13:13-14 and is the line that Augustine picked up and read and led to his repentance with God. I am someone who doesn't really believe in coincidences, especially when seeking God’s Grace. What are the chances that Terry, a middle aged homeless man, would share the exact Bible verse that developed Augustines faith? If Augustine never read that verse, there would be no Augustinian Volunteer Program and I would be in a different job right now. This is no coincidence, this is God at work.

My year has been full of moments like these, I like to label them as Spiritual Pharmacy moments because if think about it, you go to the pharmacy when you are not in good health to obtain medicine that will help you get healthy. In a similar sense, these powerful spiritual moments act as some sort of “medicine” to help enhance my relationship with God. More so, these moments inspire me to wake up every morning with a smile on my face and seek to encounter as many people as I can during the day. I am a firm believer that everyone needs to know they are loved. I am so blessed to have these Spiritual Pharmacy moments which make me feel God’s Unconditional Love- love in its highest form. As a result, I understand this is the ultimate Gift of God, and it is my duty to share God’s Unconditional Love with everyone I encounter not just during this year of service, but during each and every moment of my life.

Rory Magargee

Chicago, IL 2014-2015

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Domestics 2014-2015

If only I had a beard

by e.lindberg / 21. November 2014 16:06

The hardest part for me about teaching at a high school is doing my best not to look like a high schooler. My male roommate grew out his beard and seemed to age six years, where I have one of those young faces that makes me look 16 years old when I’m really 22 going on 23. This made my first month working at Santa Clara High School difficult, especially when some of the seniors would walk up to me and tell me they didn’t respect me because I wasn’t that much older than they were. I was shocked, and angry! I would stand up in front of a class to teach a lesson I had put together the students would ignore me. The freshman would listen to me, but they were new to the school and still afraid of everything.

After some time went by the students would be happy to see me when I came in to sub because I wasn’t their usual teacher. They would shout out “he won’t let us listen to music,” or “she is so grouchy all the time.” So those shifts from the norm made them listen to me more and get excited for my presence.

When I start a class I walk from the front of the room to the back and yell out something like “Good morning guys! It is a great day because it is a Friday, which means it is the weekend! Who is absent?” As I make my way to be back of the class they shout out the students who are missing and I log the information into the computer. As I make my way back to the front of the room the students throw questions at me. “What’s your first name Miss Lindberg,” “why are teaching you here Miss Lindberg,” and my favorite, “how old are you?” I like to turn that question back on the students; I call out “how old do you think I am?” and the room erupts in numbers as if the students were bidding in an auction. Usually my age ranges between 18 and 26 depending on how young the students I am teaching are; the freshman guess too high, and the seniors guess too low.

When I finally admit I am 22 a new flood of questions comes out: “where did you go to college,” “do you have a boyfriend,” “can you tell us a cool story?” All of the sudden my age has captivated the class and I have gained the respect they wouldn’t give me when they thought I was barely a year older than them. I answer one question and promise to answer more if we finish the lesson.

This time in the classroom and my job of running the school coffee shop during lunch has made it easier for me to interact with the students. They are a crazy bunch of kids that have gone from calling me “Miss Lindberg” to “Linny”, a nickname I wear with pride. They love hearing about college life and telling me their plans for the future. I think looking like I’m in high school has made it easier for them to connect with me, but being older and having the ability to share my experiences and the lessons I have learned with them has given me a level of respect.

Emma Lindberg

Ventura, CA 2014-2015

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Domestics 2014-2015

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

by m.dambrosio / 10. November 2014 23:46

“Most of what I really need 

To know about how to live

And what to do and how to be

I learned in kindergarten.

Wisdom was not at the top

Of the graduate school mountain,

But there in the sandpile at Sunday school”

- Robert Fulghum

 

This stanza from the poem “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” inspired the following blog post because, as a Kindergarten aide, I think it really couldn’t be said better. If there’s anything that brings me joy, there is little that can be matched on my “smile scale” than when I step foot into the lone classroom secured by a black fence and nestled in the corner of the blacktop courtyard at St. Pat's elementary school. Crayons roll across a round table, paint splatters onto an easel, little mouths buzz about events that occurred at recess, and pearly-white grins that never cease to make me laugh are my typical greetings. This is Kindergarten with Ms. Reagan on any given day of the week, and I feel there is nothing really else that is needed to say than that just about everything you really need to know – you learn in Kindergarten.

Eighteen little balls of sunshine scamper around the classroom, colliding with each other for my attention, “Ms. D’Ambrosio, why are we doing this? Can I ring the bell? Is it time to wake-up? Can I draw on the desk? Why are you drinking a bottle of water?”, perpetually wondering how they’re going to fill each moment of their year of Kindergarten. While I graduated from Kindergarten seventeen years ago, I still can’t shake the feeling that most of how I live and work and learn, the fundamentals of it all, happened in a classroom much similar to the one that I occupy presently. It brings me great joy to find the things that I constantly repeat to my students are the same things I repeat to my friends, family, community members, and self. 

These are some of the things I’ve learned (and am teaching) in Kindergarten: 

  • KINDERGARTEN SPEAK: Stop, look, and listen.
    • ADULT SPEAK: To give someone your attention, you must stop whatever you’re doing, give them eye contact, and listen to what words are coming out of their mouth. This gives you the greatest chance of making the next best decision. Miscommunication is one of the great thieves of a meaningful relationship.  
  • KINDERGARTEN SPEAK: Play nicely, and fewer tears will be shed.
    • ADULT SPEAK: If you act in a way where you think about others, there will much less negativity in your life. 
  • KINDERGARTEN SPEAK: Clean up your messes, and then help your friends clean up their messes if you have extra time. We all have a stake in making the classroom a clean and beautiful place.
    • ADULT SPEAK: We all have a stake in making the world a clean and beautiful place. Focus first on your struggles and then help those around you who are struggling; self-love is an important aspect of living life in a way that will not only make you happy, but those around you as well.  
  • KINDERGARTEN SPEAK: Relax your brain and take a nap.
    • ADULT SPEAK: It’s important to relax after hard hours of focus; we are meant to learn some and think some and play some. It helps us balance our logic with our creativity, our emotions with our analytical abilities. 
  • KINDERGARTEN SPEAK: Use your words, not your hands.
    • ADULT SPEAK: Attempt to verbalize your complaints and concerns with others rather than with physical abuse or threats. 
  • KINDERGARTEN SPEAK: You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.
    • ADULT SPEAK: Appreciate what you are given; don’t compare yourself with others. 
  • KINDERGARTEN SPEAK: Say you’re sorry, and mean it.
    • ADULT SPEAK: Make sure the person you hurt knows how much you love them. 
  • KINDERGARTEN SPEAK: Flush and wash your hands.
    • ADULT SPEAK: Flush and wash your hands.
  • KINDERGARTEN SPEAK: Playing is an important part of the day.
    • ADULT SPEAK: Find a reason to smile and laugh each and every day.

 

So, all in all, when I step into the Kindergarten classroom, I’m not just teaching. I’m learning right alongside everybody else. It is a true joy to wake up each day with the realization that what I teach my Kindergarteners will have a far greater impact than in just one day in the classroom, one year in school, or even in one graduation diploma. 

 

It very well could impact them for the rest of their lives.

 

And that’s surely something to be joyous about Smile

 

Marissa D'Ambrosio

San Diego, CA 2014-2015 

Tags:

Domestics 2014-2015

One Day At A Time

by n.lombardi / 3. November 2014 00:50

Time, I feel is my biggest gift and challenge this year. I’m here in Philly with 3 strangers, doing a new job that has reasonable hours where I get to go home each night and have dinner as a community. I am able to leave work at work and focus in on my community at home. I no longer work late nights and weekends. My family and friends are not a hop, skip and a jump away. My responsibilities are to my service site, community, city and self.

To break it down for you and give you a taste of who I am I decided to give you a snapshot of what my time as an AV has looked like thus far. I like to list things. My journal doesn’t look like a story book, it is full of bullet points, doodles, questions and ideas. It is how I capture thoughts, feelings and memories. I decided to structure this blog entry in a similar fashion.

Time at my service site: Achieving Independence Center, Life Skills Classes, member dinners, calling shelters to find out about open beds, case notes, member development plans, goal setting, sharing stories, asking about weekend plans, trainings, Temple tour, evaluations, referrals, numbers, copies, housing liaisons, education and employment teams, smiles, creativity, dedication, holiday parties, children, staff mediation, orientation

Time in community: Abby, Brittany, Mary Beth, dynamic, fun loving, crafting prayers, enjoying the lights, music and hammocks at the harbor park, running errands, cooking together, sharing stories, meeting family and friends, visiting squares, scavenger hunt, Reading Terminal, 7pm mass, Ms. Elizabeth, dinners with the Friars, First Fridays, Market Street, Bananagrams, Netflix marathons, recipes, mail

Time in Philly: Rocky steps, trying all the different cheesesteak places, Bottom Dollar, WaWa, free coffee from Dunkin Donuts when the Eagles win, Opera on the Mall, walking the Ben Franklin Bridge, Temple, Washington Square, murals

Me time: journaling, classical music, dancing to top hits, walking to the library, reading, reflection, self-discovery, listening, writing letters, crocheting, let go and let God

I’m getting to work with amazing people, provide resources to youth in need, develop strong connections as a community, embrace the beauty and history of the city and continue to dig deeper and reflect on who I am.

I’m thankful this year has allowed me time to devote to my service site, community, city and self. It can be tough to sit with your own thoughts and work through different challenges but it has been wonderful to be on this journey with 3 fabulous ladies full of love and laughter through all of it. Time is precious. After all, today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present. 

 

Nicole Lombardi

 

Philadelphia, PA 2014-2015

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Domestics 2014-2015

The Little Munchkins and the Three Minutes

by k.steinkamp / 18. October 2014 06:23

I open my eyes to darkness. I'm up before the sun. I somehow get out of bed and look somewhat presentable in somewhat business casual (whatever that means), and also make a lunch (maybe). I back out of the driveway...or attempt to. I reposition the car so i don't hit the house or the fence. Time for traffic. In Chicago it's not a matter of IF there's traffic...there will be. I zone out. I'm in San Diego on the beach. I'm at shoreclub with Simone and Shayla. Hot sand, salty water, tan skin. I'm back home with my mom and Addy drinking wine. I'm laughing with my aunt Betty in Oregon. HONK. I'm slowly drifiting in more than one way.

I get off the freeway, eventually, and park. Someone got shot a block from here last week. It's normal. I hear the beep telling me I've succesfully locked the car. It's chilly outside, and I remember everyone telling me that I don't know what cold is...yikes. Winter is coming.

Ms. Doty and I talk about the kids and their ridiculous shenanigans. How one of them is aggressive, another is on another planet, one is our favorite, and the other we could seriously all do without. At 7:50 she walks out the door while off-handedly saying, "Alright, I'm going to get the munchkins".

I have three minutes to prepare myself for the thirty first graders coming my way. I look around the room and take in the precious and peaceful serenity of silence...I will not experience this sound, or the absence of it, until five o'clock. 

Although my bosses have asked me to write this blog about my experience thus far...I think about it everyday in those three minutes in that tiny kid chair( which my Kilroy backside refuses to be fit in), at that tiny kid desk which has become my official perch.

I'll be honest: Everyday is a struggle. My greatest challenge of being an Augustinian Volunteer is those three minutes. My amazing roommates ask me everyday how my day went, and I cannot put into words how much I yell and reprimand all day long. Even typing this out, I cannot begin to tell you the multitude of seemingly dramatic events that unfold throughout the day. Someone is bothering someone else. Someone hit someone else. Someone has to go to the bathroom. Someone went to the bathroom...on themselves. Someone went to the circus. Someone is crying. Someone is crying because someone else is crying. Someone literally ate a button. AND their pencil. Someone continues to say "finna" and "axe". Someone has just pushed me past my limit and I am somehow keeping my cool. The lights go off - put your head down - timeouts throughout the day.

Throughout the day I am constantly barking at kids. SIT DOWN. STAND UP. DO YOUR WORK. BE QUIET.

In those three minutes before the little munchkins/hellions enter the room, I think about what the heck I've gotten myself into.

And do you want to know the most ridiculous part? 

I smile.

Between the barking and yelling, I smile. These thirty little munchkins are apart of my life, and I'm apart of theirs....which to me, is coincidentally amazing. These munchkins are six or seven years old, and have already gone through too much. One kid gets too aggressive, and then cries for his mom who is dead. Another kid opens his lunch to eat a snack, and its jumbo marshmallows (I don't know why, but that struck a chrord with me). Many of them mirror the actions of their older siblings, not knowing it's completely innapropriate. I tell them to do their homework with their parents, then flush with embarrasement knowing that some of them don't have parents, and live with their grandparents. We go out to the playground and it's disgusting, but they play their little hearts out. Some of these children get dropped off at 6:30am and get picked up at 6:30pm. I drive through their neighborhoods on the way home, and I am scared for them...I am scared of the statistics. I am scared of who they will become ONLY because of their demographics.

Each one of my little munchkins makes me so angry every day, yet they somehow simultaneously are also melting my heart. I correct their sentences, and they correct my outlook on life. 

Every day is a challenge. My very wise and amazing mother told me that this is a growing process, and although growing hurts, it is necessary. I thank God everyday I am so blessed to have two amazing people that I can call Mom and Dad, because some of my little ones don't even have that.

I'm supposed to just answer one question...but this is my answer to two: My greatest challenge is my greatest joy this year. These kids drive me totally insane, but just thinking about them now, I hold each and every one of them so close to my heart that it brings tears to my eyes.

Three minutes. I snapchat my sister and my best friends.  I miss my ocean. I miss my friends. The first of the munchkins walks in. I put down my phone...it's not about me anymore. In those three minutes I remind myself why I'm here.

I do it for the munchkins.

 

Kathleen Steinkamp

Chicago, IL

2014-2015

Tags:

Domestics 2014-2015

I Appreciate Cereal More

by w.rattigan / 12. October 2014 21:23

Someone asked me recently how I have grown by doing this year of service so far. My answer is simple: I appreciate Cereal more.

I don’t have anything profound to say about how my life has changed immensely because of living in community, I mean, I have only been here a month. But I do appreciate cereal more (I even accidentally capitalized it in the first sentence) and I think that summarizes my growth over the past month. I’m sure thats not what the office is looking for as a sales pitch to next year's volunteers, but I’m being serious. Cereal is a huge commodity now a days. You see, my community has four girls and two guys. The guys eat more. It happens. Long story short, I was snacking on cereal when I shouldn’t have been. It became a small debacle. But the thing is, I loved every single minute of it; I grew from it. After a day or two of stubbornness on my part, I finally admitted I was wrong. You see, thats a big deal for me. It may not sound like much, but it was to me. When you live with five other people, your character defects come out. I’m interacting with five roommates on a daily basis and yeah, small fights and big annoyances can come up. And what a blessing that is today. Because now instead of just ignoring those things, I can take a look at my part in the situation and work on being okay with being wrong, or realizing i’m not the only one who needs the car right this second, or admitting that sometimes I eat cereal in the middle of the night because I’m bored, not because I’m hungry and not because I need it.

These little fights, no matter how big or small, also make me appreciate how tough life could really be. I’m spoiled. I’m living simply, but I’m still spoiled. I was able to argue about having a bowl of cereal out of boredom while many families would never think of eating anything out of boredom. It just makes me grateful for the small things. From the warmth of the sun we take for granted to waking up for a job that I can go to everyday. I also appreciate the big things. Like knowing I come home to five loving individuals who generally care about what I did that day. Or that I have the ability to show them that same love back. It's beyond my wildest dreams. I could write a whole blog just on my community members or just on my job at Via International (Hey, maybe i’ll do that), but I think for now I have a word count.

A year ago today if you told me I was going to be living with five people, all of whom were volunteering for a year, I would have laughed about the very thought. Now, today, I can say I have never been so blessed to have such an opportunity. If you want to talk about growth, I’d say I’ve come pretty far. For now, I’ll keep on appreciating my daily MORNING cereal bowls and everything in between will hopefully keep on falling into place. Life is good. Be sure to dig it. 

Will Rattigan

 

San Diego, CA 2014-2015

Tags:

Domestics 2014-2015

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