Pentecost is my favorite liturgical feast day. Often viewed as the unofficial birthday celebration of the Church, I also like to view it as the disciples’ graduation. Empowered by the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the peace of Christ, the disciples are called to action from their place of fear. Exactly one year ago this weekend, I was celebrating my own college graduation from Villanova University. Similar to the disciples at their time of transition after Easter, I was fearful of the change from college to the Augustinian Volunteers. I was afraid of the changes about to take place and all the unknown nuances that come with living in community.
My dad affectionately describes my time with the AVs as comparable to a reality TV show. To be honest, he’s not entirely wrong. Five strangers moving to a new city and serving together has definitely made for a fun and exciting year full of adventures, joys, and challenges that would give any television producers plenty of content for multiple seasons of entertainment. My community members and I come from different places, with different backgrounds, different reasons for wanting to do a year of post-graduate service, and different skills and quirks that make us who we are. At the beginning of the year these differences seemed great as we transitioned from separate individuals to a cohesive community. My perception of these differences quickly shifted as I watched my community members serve one another with gifts that filled each other’s gaps.
Mickey is a gifted explainer of all things, especially TV shows, sports, superheroes, and current events. He describes the things he knows with an animated patience, excited to share the things he loves with those he encounters.
Stephen lives with an energetic, joyful willingness to go the extra mile (both literally and figuratively) to make those he cares for smile. Stephen doesn’t walk, he runs and is quick to find ways to show his love for others.
Brenda keeps our community on track with her strong sense of duty and commitment. She is a woman of her word who lives with a quiet, steadfast grace reminding us we can’t have fun without fundamentals.
Claire has a gift for bringing people together, She has a knack for remembering the little details and shows her love by her conscientious efforts to acknowledge the seemingly small things that bring each of us great joy.
During this Sunday’s readings we’re reminded, “there are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone” (1 Cor 12:4-6). The differences that seemed so daunting at the beginning of this experience make my beautiful community a success. Yes, each of my community members and I are different, yet we serve with the same Augustinian spirit, intent on serving each other and the common good, doing our parts to make the world a better place.
We are beginning to prepare for another time of transition at the end of this all too quick ten-month experience. My community and I have started coming to terms with this change as the distant hypothetical end of service rapidly becomes a reality. While each of us have acknowledged our concerns regarding what comes next, for me, this transition doesn’t feel quite as scary. I move forward from the AVs emboldened by the gift of community, with a heart and spirit on fire by the different types of love they have shown me.
San Diego, 2017-2018