Last Thursday evening my housemates and I were cleaning the house so I brought my computer down to listen to some jams, as is customary for our house. Somehow between cleaning and bringing my laptop to my ...lap... on the couch, the screen on my wonderful computer decided it just wasn't going to work anymore. So since last Thursday, I have been computer-less. Luckily, Maureen's fiance fixes computers so he's taken my poor little Compaq under his wing until it gets up and running again.
I must say that it has been a big blessing in disguise that my computer has not been in use. Since one of my Lenten goals is to pray more, not having my computer to distract me has afforded me ample time to read some Henri Nouwen (great, great spiritual writer) and work on some "Praying in Color". As it turns out, my understanding of prayer has broadened and the narrow scope I once thought prayer to be has made room for little old me and my inability to focus or be strapped into tradition. I'm trying new and exciting ways to reach God in my own life and really trying to deepen my own relationship with God so I can better serve others.
This weekend was full of excitement! Saturday Sister Madonna, who gave us retreat in November on Myers-Briggs, graced us with her presence again and gave us a presentation on how the different personality types of the writers of the Gospels impacted their story-telling and thus our perceptions of Jesus. It was very interesting and it was really great see Sr. Madonna again!
During the meal on Sunday I was on deliveries, one of my favorite jobs! Sister Leslie and I delivered 12 boxes of food to families around North Philadelphia. The newest family added to the delivery list, Angela and her boyfriend (or husband) and their 2 kids Bianca and Jeremy, who are regular guests at the Inn. Angela just had Bianca in December so we finally met her for the first time just a couple weeks ago! She is such a beautiful little girl and whenever Angela comes in, I immediately go over and, as I like to think, take the baby off her hands for awhile. I really just love to hold her so I steal her for a little bit! I was really excited to be going to their house this weekend so that I could see the lives they lead outside of the 30 minutes we see them at the Inn. I recently found out that Angela just started methadone treatments (for those of you who don't know, it is a substance replacement for those who suffer from heroin addiction; users will substitute heroin for methadone with the goal to eventually be weaned off methadone). I don't really agree with methadone but I am hopeful and excited that Angela has taken steps towards recovery, especially given the young children she has at home! I was greeted with big smiles from Jeremy and Angela's significant other, who I think was relieved to have someone he knows coming to his home for the first time.
After the meal on Sunday, Patrick, one of the regular volunteers (he comes on Tuesday nights) cooked us a wonderful Peruvian feast! He spent some time in Peru and wanted to "give back" to us all that we do for him. I don't think Patrick realizes how much he really does for us, but we took the delicious meal anyway! It was great to have a relaxing meal with the Team and with Patrick! After our feast, Emily, Maureen and I began preparations for Michael's birthday!
His birthday was on Monday and we had the crazy idea to make t-shirts for ourselves and hats for the rest of the team. We put a picture of Michael on our shirts and wrote in puff paint "I LOVE ...(then his picture)". On the hats for the team, we just wrote "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MICHAEL" on all of them and passed them out to the team before morning prayer on Monday. We had a lot of fun making them and the entire team was on board! He seemed delighted that we put so much time into the hats and shirts, although he said we had too much time on our hands. :-)
When I was here last year for SBA, one of the things we did while here was we went to Saint David's parish, a church that is about 40 minutes away, to help bring donations back to the Inn. Every year, Saint David's does a big clothing and canned food drive to benefit the Inn and so the Team goes to the church for a mass and reception, then loads up all the donations and brings them back. Now it's not just a van-load... we brought all the Inn's cars so that we would have enough room to fit all the donations. That's 8 cars (2 of which are mini-vans and one of which is a big 15 passenger van)!!! It's quite the event and last year I was able to be part of it! Well, this year was round 2!!! At the mass, generally the FVMs speak, telling stories of the Inn and tugging at the heart strings of the parishoners so this year, Emily, Maureen and I spoke at Saint David's! It was such a change of events from last year when I was sitting in the pews listening to Matt and Jay (two of the FVMs from last year)! The talk went well, in fact, Emily and Maureen did a great job as well, and the whole excursion was a big success!
And so that brings me to last night... when Philadelphia gets a threat of snow, the entire city shuts down in fear. Well, last night, as it was sleeting and raining, all of the schools that we normally have volunteer cancelled on us (before 1pm, I might add). This left us with basically just team members to work the meal. For the first time in a long time I got to serve tables! It was so much fun to be able to really serve the guests again, something I love so much but have simply forgotten. It is nice, once in awhile, to do a job that doesn't require me to say "no," or to have to figure out if guests are lying, and to really just have fun with the guests. Although it seemed like we were going to be strapped for help last night, I really think it was good for all of us who got to serve to be able to do such work.
And finally, a Lenten observance for our community is to do a brown-out once a week after the meal. We won't be turning off the heat (we think it's counter-productive), but we will be turning off lights and alarm clocks and hot water for the evening. We had our first mini-brown-out last night so we had our community meeting and community fun night in the dark! It's nice to be aware of these things and we think that this will be a constant reminder to us of the many blessings we've been given.
So, I hope that Lent has gotten off to a good start for you all! I pray that you use this time to deepen your own relationship with God and are given the strength to stand by your Lenten observances! God bless!