Reflection is a integral part of the PV Volunteer experience. When we finish up at a site we encourage volunteers to take the time write a reflection about their experiences during the week to help process what they were a part of. The following is a reflection on the Seattle PV Experience by Tom Ring, a volunteer from Florida.
Charity has many meanings, mostly I think it gives a sense of goodness, even the desire of our hearts become larger as we help others. This is a natural part of everyone. Personally I am still beginning to understand a love for Every being (human and beyond). It’s been more than casually searching for a deeper truth and understanding thru research and contemplation. Beginning in my youth and throughout adulthood, God’s love has been the returning path to which I’ve begun to realize the mystery of my Will, to give ... to anyone.
The PV experience has enriched this process each time I’ve been able to join in. Again in Seattle this spring 2015, the PV’s have offered not only the opportunity of fun & joy of community through serving, it has offered more clarity in my search for deeper meaning in ways that I might communicate, support and find love not only for those in need, but those who are different culturally and socially. “The more we desire to give ourselves in Charity the more Charity we will have to give, and the more we give the more truly we shall be.” Wrote Thomas Merton in his book who’s title I’ve purposely used in the heading above. Merton also writes “The fruit of my labors is not my own: for I am preparing the way for the achievements of another.” Thus giving without expectation of any receipt, it becomes an unexpected joy, realizing that it is true in our own hearts, we are able to let it go, let it be free.
It is a remarkable city, Seattle. A place of beauty, freedom, charity and responsibility. Many people of Seattle have grasped and organized these important ways into life. It was obvious that each center we worked with had a spider web of managed groups participating in one way or another like a well oiled set of gears operating and serving without friction. Each understood the value to serve thru volunteerism, so we fit in seamlessly.
We had two soup kitchen and one Church kitchen experience (Operation Sack Lunch, Union Gospel Mission and Our Lady of Guadalupe), preparing, serving & busing hot and wholesome meals where we met, chatted, joked and smiled with nearly everyone who crossed our path. At one location, under an overpass up town, we greeted and served over 100 people a hot lunch. I was affected by each grateful smile and “thank you.” At many points this felt less like charity, it seemed more like a planetary responsibility of feeding your children (or your dog and cat) ... because you love them, it was just what you do naturally.
We also did work for Mother Nature (it was work)! and met 30 or so interesting folks working with the Nature Consortium digging up an evasive Himalayan black berry. This process was to allow the forest beside a long time polluted waterway to recover and to aid in both its and the forest’s renewal. During lunch we were serenaded by a trombonist and clarinetist. Like I’ve said, Seattle is a beautiful place!
At the Low Income Housing Institute complex we did yard work and cleanup while chatting it up with the children who live there. This was a place for families who have been displaced or in need a of some new start. It was a challenge but we put our hearts into it and spruced everything up rather nicely.
We also redistributed a large pile of cedar chips delivered at Our Lady of Guadalupe in their Prayer Garden. Less a chore and more a chance to socialize in the field! I may make a prayer garden at my home, it was such a quiet place over looking downtown.
We did do some thorough sightseeing as well. To anyone who has not been to Seattle you will not forget this PV experience.