• June 18, 2013

Alumni Weekend:
More than just a joyful homecoming

By Charlotte Ingalls

One of the greatest things that has totally befud­dled me and delighted me since my first encounter with Heart’s Home is the sen­sa­tion of feeling over­whelm­ingly con­tent and wel­come in the midst of for­eign lands and people. When I stum­bled into a house of French people in the middle of a Brooklyn housing pro­ject in March of 2010, I felt truly “in place” for the first time in my life. Six months later, five unknown faces bar­reled toward me with arms opened wide in the Lima air­port and imme­di­ately took me on as their sister. Over the course of 18 months, the streets of a smelly yet col­orful Peruvian ghetto became my beloved home and its faces my heart­beat. Three weeks ago, it hap­pened again as I returned to Brooklyn for alumni weekend along with 9 other former vol­un­teers. Even though I had only formerly met a few of them, they all seemed to be soul friends.

Since I was in Latin America for the better por­tion of two years, I fell in the trap of lim­iting Heart’s Home to for­eign ter­ri­tory. However Sunday after­noon, I think my heart finally landed stateside again. After Father Paul cel­e­brated a beau­tiful mass ini­ti­ating Kari, Tori and Erica into the Fraternity of Maximilian Kolbe, we all gath­ered in the back court­yard along with sev­eral friends from New York for an after­noon full of food, song, dance, chil­dren playing and good con­ver­sa­tion. As I con­tently sat in the midst of a scene that seemed all too familiar, it dawned on me that I was not in Lima, Peru but in Brooklyn, New York amongst my fellow Americans. I rejoiced at seeing the Heart’s Home family alive and well in the United States.

Nevertheless, it seems absurd and even a bit inhu­mane to limit my heart’s con­tent­ment to a few geo­graph­ical spots or even people for that matter. Heart’s Home pro­poses totally the con­trary: living daily life open to receiving and sharing Love. As I laughed and swapped sto­ries with the other vol­un­teers about lessons we learned during our mis­sions such as the dig­nity and care shown through a prop­erly set table, whole-heart­edly dancing to for­eign music for the sake of your friend’s birthday or lis­tening to the same story from the lady on the corner bi-weekly, Mother Teresa’s words rang loud and clear, “Don’t look for big things, but do small things with great love.” For me, alumni weekend was not only a joyful home­coming but more­over, a reminder to be faithful to the Heart’s Home charism that I have received in the pre­sent moment, in the place where I am, with the people I encounter.

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