Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer Reflections: Looking back at my time in LA

Sometimes I watch shows like "America's Got Talent." My little sister earlier today was watching "So You Think You Can Dance" and I was watching a bit of it with her (and making fun of her about it too). I find myself quite inspired by the way these contestants pour out their heart and soul into their work, and you can tell the ones who truly love what they are doing.

This past summer has been filled with experiences in which I have often thought to myself: "I truly love this Jesuit life that I lead." My vocation as a Jesuit is something I have poured my heart and soul into, and I have experienced things I would never had an opportunity to otherwise. Sure, it has had its fill of challenges, but I truly cannot imagine myself at this moment doing anything else. After being in the Society for almost four years now, I am beginning to notice how my Jesuit Spirituality is beginning to shape more and more how I view and experience the world. I find myself finding Christ more and more in the everyday--that Jesuit motto of "Finding God in All Things." It is like a language where, initially, you are spending quite a bit of time just trying to understand the grammar. But, you come to a point when learning a language where you are no longer trying to figure out how to say things. The words just come to you naturally. I find myself beginning to see things as a Jesuit more and more naturally.

One of my desires in my Jesuit life is to work in an educational setting. I think probably high school, but I am not completely opposed to the University setting. Although, my time at Dolores Mission has shown me that I would love to be a pastor as well (if I can avoid the administrative duties). For myself, I have sought to challenge myself in my Jesuit life and to insert myself in places that are not the most comfortable for me with the opinion that the more types of experiences I have, the better I will be able to serve in the future.

This summer, I spent quite some time with the homeless at Dolores Mission and ex-gang members at Homeboys--a segment of the population I have had little interaction with. I didn't want to read about them simply in books--I wanted to get to know them and to build some relationships. In listening to their struggles, their fears, and their hopes, I realized how my life is quite removed from theirs. For example, I don't know what it's like to become homeless because I couldn't pay my medical bills. Yet, anyone in ministerial work must learn how to place themselves in the other's shoes and understand where s/he is coming from in order to communicate more effectively with them. And sometimes, it's not what you say to people--sometimes it is just enough just to be in their company. When you feel yourself oppressed, unloved, and forgotten, sometimes all you need is someone who shows up and believes in you despite what you have been hearing for a majority of your life--someone to become like Christ to you. One homie who graduated from the school at Homeboy's remarked to his teacher: "thank you for believing in me when no one else did. You are the reason I graduated."

Being now at home in Sacramento to visit my family, I am reminded that one of the things I learned from my dad growing up is that when you are generous to others, others will be generous to you. I did my best being generous to this summer experience and to the people I became involved with. In turn, I felt so many people were generous to me. This weekend was filled with beautiful prayers and well-wishes from so many different people. At the 6pm mass this past Sunday, for example, I was invited towards the front of the Church where I was surrounded by quite a number of the GHP men. Their blessing was immensely moving and an experience I will remember for quite some time.

I find myself immensely grateful at this moment in my life, and I truly believe that Christ has been with me and continues to walk with me through all of these experiences. For that, I am truly blessed, and I cannot help but want to continue pouring my heart and soul into this life I lead.

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