Thursday, October 22, 2015

Springing Up

I spent the first month of my postulancy spending time at many of our community's ministries to see where I might like to be on a regular basis. I went to our Neighborhood Art House; I went to our food pantry; I went to our Kids' Cafe; I went to our education center where we work with adults; I visited the office of the Alliance for International Monasticism; I explored a few other odds and ends. I experienced many people and places, and I gained a greater appreciation for just how much our community is doing for the city of Erie and beyond.

But, I also spent a lot of time at our childhood development center, Saint Benedict Center (SBC). Yesterday, as I discussed this coming week's gospel with my lectio partner, the phrase "sprang up" called her. She asked me, "For what do you spring up?" I quickly responded, "The kids." After visiting the first time, I also knew very quickly that I wanted SBC to be my ministry. The kids there are just great kids. They are creative, happy, curious, and full of potential.

Besides the awe that I have for children, the reason why I think I spring up for the kids is because it pains me to know that far too often the cards are stacked against them through no fault of their own; it is the reality of the system - unfair distribution of wealth, unfair education system, unfair, unfair, unfair.

But yet, despite so much, kids are so resilient. They fall and they bounce back up - literally and figuratively. I get to watch this each and every day, and it teaches me so much. I watch 1-year olds learning to walk and to eat with a fork for the first time. I watch 3-year olds fearlessly climbing up the playground bars. I watch pre-K kids learning the alphabet. I watch 2-year olds agreeing to share a toy. I watch so much potential. It stops me in my tracks sometimes. Am I doing everything I can to help these children recognize their potential?

So often in those moments I get curious myself - what will their futures hold? How will their potential develop and actualize? Given the realities of our society, where will these kids be in twenty years? It brings to mind a Mary Oliver poem called What is the greatest gift?

What is the greatest gift?
Could it be the world itself--the oceans, the meadowlark,
     the patience of the trees in the wind?
Could it be love, with its sweet clamor of passion?

Something else--something else entirely
     holds me in thrall.
That you have a life that I wonder about
     more than I wonder about my own.
That you have a life--courteous and intelligent--
     that I wonder about more than I wonder about my own.
That you have a soul--your own, no one else's--
     that I wonder about more than I wonder about my own.
So that I find my soul clapping its hands for yours
     more than my own.

I think these are important questions: What is the greatest gift for you? For what do you spring up?

Let us walk in the holy presence.