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.