Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lucky 13


Gracie & Sassi doing dishes on retreat
As long as I can remember, 13 has been my lucky number. To some people, the number 13 is cursed or unlucky. Often there is no 13th row on airplanes or a 13th floor in tall buildings, but the number 13 has given me plenty of good luck. Whether there is actual truth behind lucky numbers or it’s just coincidence, the number 13 has played a significant role in my life. For example, playing sports was the highlight of my childhood and adolescence, and I always wore jersey #13. When I went off to college, I was nervous of what was next. College seemed like a scary place, but after spending my freshman year living in room 313 in Stuart Hall my parents had to almost literally drag me home for the summer because I had fallen in love with The University of Dayton. While I was at UD I had a number of life inspiring experiences, but the most inspiring was the summer I spent in the Appalachian Mountains doing service work. Coincidently enough we lived on State Route 1031, the number 13 backwards. After 4 amazing years at UD I sadly had to graduate, but it seemed like a sign that I was graduating in 2013. It was as if someone up above was telling me that even though one door is closing, the next door that is being opened will be full of hope, promise, and good luck. Now I am living in Chicago, which is a life-long dream come true. To top it all off I am doing work that I love and I am a part of an amazing community comprised of....wait for it…13 incredible people that have become family. Coincidence?

Iron Chef community night!
Getting the opportunity to live in community has been one of many highlights of being a Franciscan Outreach Volunteer. After living in community when I was doing my summer of service in the Appalachian Mountains, I knew that if I was going to be doing a year of service, I had to live in community. But what does it mean to live in community? Being a part of a community is more than just being roommates. It means being intentional with each other. Picking each other up when we are down. Community means challenging each other to become the best version of ourselves as possible. It means holding each other accountable for the promises that we have made to ourselves and to our community. Community means spending time with each other. Whether it is a community dinner on a Sunday night, or it is having an “Iron Chef” competition at one of our Wednesday community nights, being with each other is a top priority. Community is laughter. My favorite part of the day is when we are all sitting at the kitchen table together talking about our days, staring stories of our lives before FOV, and laughing until we cry or until milk out of our noses, whichever comes first. Community means inclusivity. Yes, there are 13 of us that make up the 2013-2014 Franciscan Outreach Volunteers Community, but it also means that the 13 of us work together towards expanding our community to include those around us, especially the guest of Franciscan Outreach. Above all, community means love. Loving and accepting each other for who we are. Community means supporting one another as we learn to love others, especially the guests of FO, for their character, not undermining them because of their choices or life situations.
Themed Thursday in the soup kitchen

Community is one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given, and I feel so lucky that I have been blessed with an amazing community here at Franciscan Outreach. Community has shown me that we are not meant to go through life alone. We were meant to live life together. In Dorothy Day’s autobiography The Long Loneliness, she says “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community”. Ms. Day could not have spoken more truthfully.  With a little luck, hopefully one day through the power of community we will no longer know loneliness, only love.

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