Ruined for life
It is, in a way, a school, a work camp, to which large-hearted, socially-conscious, young people come to find their vocation. After some months or years, many know most definitely what they want to do with their lives. Some go into medicine, nursing, law, teaching, farming, writing and publishing. They learn not only to love, with compassion, but to overcome fear, that dangerous emotion that precipitates violence. They may go on feeling fear, but they know the means, they have grown in faith, to overcome it.
Most of my best friends from college are finishing up a year of volunteering with Jesuit Volunteer Corps (and other programs like Mercy Home and Amate House) this week. They’ve been my rock, my energy, my encouragement, and my challenge through this year. They served the homeless and mentally ill, fell in love with refugees and kids who throw chairs at them, led innovative projects and did grunt work.They lived on $80 a month in the largest and most expensive U.S. cities. They struggled through community life, invested in new friendships, maintained long-distance relationships. And they did it all with grace, humility, and gratitude for the opportunity to serve.
JVC promised to ruin you all for life. I think you were pretty ruined before you even started. But it’s been an amazing privilege to see how this year pushed each of you beyond what you knew was possible, so that there is no going back. Thanks for taking me along for the ride.