The Courage of Spring
by Mark Avery, IVC Volunteer
“All the buried seeds crack open in the dark, the instant they surrender to a process they cannot see.” (Book of Awakening, by Mark Nepo, 2000). Recently, that quote has challenged me to reflection and action which has moved me to grow in new and different ways. There are “buried seeds” in each of our hearts that hold possibilities and invitations to think differently; to respond to needs in our cities, neighborhoods, on our borders and across the oceans. This process of introspection may also be helpful in our various IVC ministries as we serve and accompany those persons we are privileged to serve. In all of these examples, we respond to the cries of the earth and the universe.
Poet Mary Oliver, who passed away earlier this year, loved the world and its various creatures;she saw our world with the eyes of her being and her heart. In her poem, “Spring,” she writes: “There is only one question: “How to love this world?” Perhaps that is just the question that prompts one of those “buried seeds” in our hearts to crack open and to bud! It may be an opportunity to accept the nudge of grace, to be open for the seeds, of who knows what possibilities still lying buried in my heart, and to surrender to the process?
“How to love this world?” is both a gift and a challenge. Perhaps this Lenten season, and the approaching spring, will give us opportunities to meet Jesus alive in those we serve. It may also occur with the opening of a bud, and the first sight of the morning sun. We pray for slow, steady growth and continued unfolding.
What gifts and challenges do you perceive in the coming of spring? May we have the courage that spring offers!
The Challenges and Rewards of Service
by Mike Reidy, IVC Volunteer
Since I have been volunteering at Cristo Rey St. Martin in Waukegan, I have found it both challenging and rewarding.
It takes a lot of time and dedication to provide the guidance and administrative support to prepare these kids for success. Each kid has their own set of skills and needs, and it takes a while to develop a good guidance plan. Along with a good guidance plan, accurate record keeping is essential to provide them with grades that identify and reward behaviors that will help them be successful in work and in school.
I am also impressed by the how the academic and work study staff do their jobs in a way that will help these kids. I believe most of the kids realize that they have an opportunity to prepare themselves for a better career than their parents and that they have that opportunity because of the generosity and dedication of others.
I am trying to apply the principles that we teach these kids to my life. Just because I am an adult with years of experience and education does not make me a finished product. I believe I have grown as a person in the process of trying to help others grow.
Making Room at the Table
by Maureen Kennedy Barney, IVC Volunteer
One of the most integral aspects of Jesus’ public ministry was that he welcomed all at the table. Sharing a meal together in Jesus’ culture held a unique weight; it reflected RESPECT, ACCEPTANCE and FULL INCLUSION. Jesus expected his disciples to promote a community that welcomes and honors all.
For the past four years as an IVC volunteer, I have been blessed to be at Old St Pat’s with the members of the Trinity Volunteer Corps, people with disabilities volunteering together, providing each person with an outlet to express their unique talents and gifts. Inclusion through volunteerism guides TVC. Gathered together at our table, the mail room table on the third floor of the Jack Wall Mission Center, our tasks are many and varied.
Preparing the 5000 cut outs for the Giving Tree, assembling Valentine Cheer bags for shut ins, sharing liturgy at the Special Friends Mass, participating in the Mass with the IVC members, assisting at all of the Ronald Mc Donald Houses to serve a meal for those on a journey with a seriously ill child, bringing the light at the Easter Vigil, assisting with any task for the many ministries supported by the wonderful folks who make Old St Pat’s a place where one experiences the God who loves us all, greeting at the Block Party or welcoming guests to Deck the Halls, we work together in a spirit of inclusion and companionship as we are JOY to each other on our journey.
Perhaps our greatest efforts consist in our preparation of weekly food bags that OSP provides for the homeless: a bottle of water, a package of crackers and cheese, raisins, canned sausages, and a protein bar…some hundred people a week find their daily nourishment in the food bags. As we walked together one Wednesday to the noon Mass, we passed a young man holding a very small child. Seated on the curb which was their table, they were sharing their lunch…the bag they had just received from Old St Pat’s. We stopped and spoke with the pair learning of the hardship they were enduring and of the gratitude they felt for this daily meal.
And as we moved on to church, one of my buddies said quite simply what God wants from all of us:
TO SEE HIM IN ALL WHO CROSS OUR PATHS AND TO WELCOME HIM….TO LIVE THE BEATITUDES.
God meets us wherever we are…caring for each of us and also challenging each to prepare to welcome HIM… for it is Jesus who is in those he sends into our lives, those who cross our paths. Witnessing that with each person who is part of the Trinity Volunteer Corps allows me to understand the message of HOPE…and HOPE is the door that opens onto a future where all are welcome at the table!! As Jesus tells us:
“Here I am knocking at the door. If anyone hears me calling and opens the door I will enter his house and have supper with him and he with me.”
As we take our places at the table we are blessed to have the support of those who share our vision. Fr Tom Hurley, Beth Marek, Bea Cunningham and the staff at OSP are examples of the inclusion that makes each member of Trinity Volunteer Corps feel welcome….and valued.
See the archives for more reflections.