Breaking Bread, Mending Spirits

Breaking Bread, Mending Spirits

A tenet of Augustinian spirituality is sharing meals in fellowship. As soon as we arrived, my community adopted this rhythm and it’s now one of my favorites. Every night, we begin dinner by sharing our daily “highs and lows” (or “sunshine and rain clouds”, “flowers and weeds” etc.). This almost always takes us awhile to get through, since we all come from different placements with populations ranging in age and likelihood to cause mischief. We’ll usually spend another hour or two talking about what it’s like to work inside systems (e.g., education and healthcare) that both treat and perpetuate systemic issues.

As we’ve gotten closer to the election, my community’s gotten real about what the results could mean for our service populations and, importantly, for us. As two white women and one Black man, we have each witnessed and experienced oppression from racist policymakers and other bad actors.

Dialoguing about these experiences has been essential to preserving my mental health. Without Madi and Carolyn, I may not have had access to endlessly-patient, supportive roommates who make me feel heard. Coming from a summer of unprecedented exposure of violence against people of color and the ensuing failures of the authorities to address these murders, I needed a strong support system to continue to be productive and feel safe.

As I begin to consider what life will look like after my AV year (surprisingly, we’re almost a third of the way through!) I know that I need to prioritize finding spaces like our dinners to rest in. Dialogues such as these are one of the places I find God in this life – God’s presence manifests in the comfort and challenge of dinnertime. Madi and Carolyn hear me out on my struggles and worries while bringing their own experiences in. Through this process, God opens all of our hearts.

I am beyond grateful that I was matched with Madi and Carolyn through the AV program. It still seems illogical that I live with two people who are so ready to be vulnerable. I don’t know if I would have found such excellent dialogue partners elsewhere; I don’t know anywhere else I would have met such godly friends.

Black lives matter.

Ryan Henderson

San Diego, CA 2020-2021

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