As my experience volunteering with the Benedictine Sisters is nearing to the end, I feel the need to reflect upon my time in Virginia. I am reminded of my expectations at the beginning of my service. Now, I have the opportunity to evaluate those expectations and compared them to reality.
I think that I have found out that the reality about life at the monastery is different than what I initially thought. I knew that I was going to work both at BARN and at BEACON. But I was wrong in believing that life was always going to be quiet, calm, and peaceful. As an introvert, such quietude appealed to me, I was going to have lots of time to read, I thought.
In reality though, I barely had any time to read. I was either busy at BARN or BEACON, busy with my graduate school application, or busy watching TV. At the exception of trying to complete my graduate school application, I did not mind my business at all. In fact, I enjoyed it. Amidst my business, amidst my daily life, I have found the meaning of community, love, and sisterhood.
In the midst the different background, the diversity in personality, the age differences, or anything that could separate us from each other, I have learned what it means to be charitable, peaceful, joyful, patient, good, and loving. Furthermore, community calls us to become obedient. It calls us out to go somewhere (or do something) that we would rather not go (do), but should go (do).
For instance, I think of the BARN community. Since many of the families I serve at BARN work in the morning, I need to set my schedule so that I meet with the residents in the evening. After working on case notes all morning, lesson planning and teaching at BEACON, I often wanted to stay home and enjoy my evening. That is until I reminded myself of the purpose of my work. In other words, community calls us out of our normal agenda, it asks us to make sacrifices, it matures us and shapes us into becoming a loving servant of God.
Ronald Rolheiser beautifully compares our calling to community and service to Paul’s conversion to Christianity. Paul answers to his call of conversion “with eyes wide open, seeing nothing.” I think of my expectations when I started volunteering. I went with such enthusiasm, expecting something that is so different from what I actually experienced. In some ways, I was like Paul. I went with eyes wide open, yet seeing nothing, but still trusting. I am leaving feeling blessed and extremely lucky.
I sincerely thank you for this opportunity!