Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Meat, glorious meat!

For those of you who didn't know, about two months ago I decided to try my hand (again) at vegetarianism. It was something I had been thinking about for most of the past year and was inspired by some friends that visited from Florida who also lived in community and had recently gone meatless. I struggled with how it would affect my very carnivorous community, running the risk of being a hassle more than a new and exciting challenge. Floridian friends said that there were ways to skirt around the community obligations and so I decided that it was worth a shot.
My quest for vegetarianism wasn't morally based in any way. I saw it more as a discipline, a challenge, something that would allow me to turn to God on a more consistent basis. It was also an effort to eat healthier, my logic being that most vegetarian options are far healthier than their meaty counterparts. As with any good new endeavor, consistent and regular re-evaluation is necessary to examine motives, missions, and success. Over the past week or so I began to question the sustainability of my latest attempt to better myself. I thought a lot about how, without any type of moral basis, it wouldn't be something that I could really maintain with any type of success and with minimal misery. Additionally, I was consequently eating more and more sweets to satiate the hunger that was derived from my lack of protein, another far cry from the discipline I'd been seeking.
The result: a delicious dinner of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and broccoli prepared by the sisters at the Team meal last night!
I worried that this would be a cop-out to my self-imposed discipline but resolved myself to the fact that I wasn't really disciplining myself in any way because of the other ways I'd satisfy myself. I challenge myself to find other ways to reach God and to eat healthier, unfortunately I think this whole Water Ice thing Philadelphia has going for it really gets in the way of my goals!
This did, however, get me to thinking about what it is that drives us to act in the way we do and what it is that stops us from doing wrong. It is our moral compass that generally guides our actions. After this experience, I realize how much of what I do depends on my own morality. It is my morals that keeps me in the trenches, serving my brothers and sisters because it is wrong for people to be suffering from anything, let alone hunger. When actions are rooted in morals, it is a whole lot easier to maintain and sustain what is being done because there's a goal, there's a bigger drive that exists outside yourself. My attempt at vegetarianism wasn't rooted in the morality of killing animals or their unjust treatment for our benefit, but was done simply for my own benefit.
I recently had a discussion with a friend who mentioned to someone else what I'd been spending my time doing for the past two years and her response was, "well, most people do that for selfish reasons anyway." Agreed. However, in order to successfully help people, you absolutely cannot be doing it for selfish reasons. Not only does it affect your work, but the people you are serving can tell that your heart just isn't in it. Instead of serving God or serving your brothers and sisters, you serve yourself, which initially can satisfy someone, but certainly is not sustainable.
I certainly didn't expect my stint at vegetarianism to erupt in me this whole thought tangent regarding morality but it is amazing how God works in us in this way. The moral of today's blog? Eat meat. And act with your heart. Love you all!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Some musings...

Over the past month or so, there has been a lot of talk about "civilizing" our guests among some of the team members here at the Inn. There's been this feeling of lack of respect from the guests that has seem to gotten the better of a few of the team members and it appears that there's going to be a serious overhaul to remedy this.
It got me thinking, though, about the sign on our door that says, "Smile, Jesus is at the door." Sure, we're called to see God in those we serve, but if those we serve always treat us respectfully, it's so much easier to see God in them and to smile. It's easy to be patient when people are being patient with the services we provide. It's easy to smile and speak calmly when everyone's listening to you. But what happens when you're faced with the adversity of someone who is yelling in your face? Or starting fights with everyone they see? Or are, for the fourth time that week, asking for a token so they can go to their program or meeting?
I think this is when we show God what we're made of. This is when our true humanity comes out. You get tired, you get frustrated, you've exhausted all your coping mechanisms, yet you're still faced with the challenges of daily life. So what happens then? This is our time to shine! I think our growth of faith and spirituality comes when we are challenged and it is then, when we're crawling on our knees and mustering up the strength for one more step, that we grow in the grace and love of God.
So I do agree that we should be met with the same respect with which we profess to treat our guests, but we also need to recognize our own need for the challenge of faith and love and use each of these confrontations as a gift and chance to grow.
Enough preachy-preachy...
The past few weeks have been full of fun and excitement! We've each taken various trips home for various reasons. Currently Amanda is in Syracuse visiting family and taking a much-needed break from the Inn. Noe was home recently to attend the wedding of his girlfriend's sister. I was home just after him to recruit at Saint Anselm (with some success, I might say). We hosted the annual Spring Fling children's party with the help of Nazareth Academy. We had 20 children ranging in age from 2-11 and had lots and lots of fun! (I would post pictures but wasn't able to take any because of my lack of camera) The following weekend the team was on their Easter retreat, leaving Noe, Amanda and I to run the show. Things went smoothly, as can be expected, but we were certainly exhausted from all the work of the weekend!
My work continues at the Urban Center and I'm loving that part of my ministry more and more! I've gotten to spend a lot of quality time with Brother John, something that many people, even team members, do not get to enjoy! While taking care of some little things around the Urban Center, I also get to pick his brain for some social work-y type tips and information, really preparing myself for the fall!
I am also actively seeking employment in the Philly area for the fall! I know this is a tough time of year to be job-hunting but I'm pretty hopeful that things will work out... they always do!
And as I type this post now, I am sitting on my screened-in back porch with our pond and fountain bubbling beside me, absorbing the hidden beauty that is Kensington. There are roses blooming, our garden is thriving, and there's an ever-so-slight breeze that keeps it just cool enough to need a sweatshirt... my favorite kind of weather! God is good, that's for sure!
I hope this post finds you all well! May the newness of Spring and all its growth and rejuvenation enlighten your hearts!

Much love!