ImagePlace of Grace was one of the first communities my family and I connected with when we moved back to La Crosse.  We wanted to start making those connections with people whom we could live in solidarity.  Practically, we needed the support of the community because we were in the midst of our own financial struggles.  Place of Grace provided a stabilizing place for us.

Frick observed that “much of American life is centered around entertainment, appearances, and narcissism rather than calm and effective servanthood” (2009, p. 74).  Those first few months back were very difficult.  We were desperate to have “the good life” of a well-accessorized home and big toys that our siblings and parents seemed to enjoy.  I jumped on the first job opportunity that came my way so we’d have a second income, even though we had managed on a single income for years living on the prairie.  The pursuit of appearances suddenly became a priority, and it was distracting me from everything I truly valued.  The varied hours of my job were such that I had a hard time engaging in any form of community life, even within my own family.  And I found it difficult to engage in the social advocacy work that had become my passion.  I had lost focus on my journey.

But I am changing.  I recognized I had strayed from the beautiful path I had been exploring and made the choice to regroup through my studies.  Ironically, the MASL program has brought me right back to where I left off, Place of Grace.  A couple of weeks ago my son and I had lunch, did some dishes, sang John Denver songs accompanied by a duct taped kid’s guitar in the living room, and left with some items from the garage food shelf because we ran short on grocery cash for the month.  It seems that in humbly returning to Place of Grace for support I discovered an open door along the path of which I had lost track.  A few days later I was invited to explore a possible service opportunity at Place of Grace; an opportunity that will provide for intimate connections within the Catholic Worker community and a place to offer meaningful service.

Frick’s description of a young woman who serves the Clarke Estate community in Cape Town, South Africa, was inspiring to me:

“Onalisa is one of the quiet ones, a girl who emerges from her ramshackle home with no electricity or running water and shows up day after day to sing, cook, and distribute food to people who are in worse condition than she is … Like so many of her other modest friends involved in the ministry at Clarke’s Estate, Onalisa simply serves in any way she can – with modesty, sincerity, and near-anonymity” (2009, p. 74).

This is how I hope to be of service to Place of Grace in the future.  I want to meet everyone there as brother and sister – from a place of understanding – as equals.  I want to offer those gifts that God has given me freely to share.  And I hope to do it with humility – in a way where I become less so that others become more.

References

Frick, D. M. (2009). Implementing servant leadership: Stories from the field. La Crosse, W.I.: D.B.

Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership at Viterbo University.

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