"Everyone has something in common with us: they are made in the image of God! They are children of God!. Being open to an encounter with everyone, without negotiating the faith we belong to. And this is important: especially with the poor. If we step outside ourselves, we find poverty." -Pope Francis, homily on Pentecost Sunday
I had much of my life planned out: finish school in the next two years, then think about other things afterward. However, something was just not quite right and an overall restlessness started to resonate in my heart the further I got into making grand plans for the next semester. I was starting to feel very turned in on myself, and the restlessness continued to build. I was feeling less and less like a gift of self in all that I did. That is until one day I found myself visiting a local hospital where I met two amazing elderly women who unbeknownst to their minds sick with Alzheimer’s, drastically changed my focus on just about every aspect of my life. One woman was Mrs. Frances Marsh, a 96 year old woman suffering with the simple fact that she was still alive. As she spoke to me about the pain she’s enduring my heart began to reach out and sync into union with hers, while simultaneously my hands to her hands did the same. My ear was inclined to her, my whole being becoming hers as I started to understand what it means to be a gift. Presence is a gift. Toward the end of our conversation that day Mrs. Frances commented on my smiling face and then looked me dead in the eye and probed my heart by asking, "Why are you here? What are you doing here? You are so young… of all the things you could be doing with your time, what are you doing at this hospital with me?" I left the hospital that day with a heavy heart and a deep sadness at the thought of continuing with my life the way I had it planned out… The stillness in my heart assured me that this is what I want to do with my time… I want to spend my time with the simple people like Mrs. Frances, who just need a presence. God spoke gently to my heart on the car ride back to campus from that hospital and revealed that restlessness and ache were leading me to volunteer with Heart’s Home, an organization that through a couple of visits to in Brooklyn, had a mission that was deeply aligning with the desires of my heart.
In July, I hope to go to Dakar, Senegal where I hope to be a witness of an encounter with Love in the faces of children of all ages whether 5 or 96, only through encountering Love Himself in the Eucharist. However I cannot and do not want to do this alone! Let us go to Senegal together where I will carry you in my heart, my words, and in every step. Join with me, for I cannot do this without you! Let us step outside of ourselves together to find within us the poverty that unites us all. Let us be love together! Let us live a life of urgent love together.