It is hard to comprehend that next week is Thanksgiving already. It has been almost three months in Erie, and life is a never ending flow of beautiful surprises:
Beauty at Saint Benedict’s Education Center is seen in the meeting of races, languages and cultures of the refugees. However, one vocabulary lesson was particularly challenging. The teacher was explaining that a family is typically a parent or parents and children. One of our Syrian refugees took out his phone in an attempt to translate. Once he understood, he began to type quickly. Google translate spoke, “I understand, but all Syrians are all one family.” This was a much needed reminder that we all belong to one another.
I’m currently reading the book, Becoming Wise by Krista Tippet, a broadcaster for National Public Radio. In it she includes interviews with people from all different faith traditions, commenting on what it means to be human. One man, Xavier Le Pichon, commented profoundly on love:
“ … once you enter into this way of … walking with the suffering person who has come into your life and whom you have not rejected, your heart progressively gets educated by them. They teach you a new way of being … . My heart cannot be educated by myself ... . And if we accept being educated by others, to let them explain to us what happens to them, and to let yourself be immersed in their world so that they can get into our world, then you begin to share something very deep. You will never be the person in front of you, but you will have created what we call communion.”
My heart has been continually educated over the past three months. It has been stretched, widened, broken and embraced by people from all around the world. To walk with the refugee, to listen to the child or to live with a sister takes a continual opening of each other’s hearts to one another’s suffering and beauty. This widening makes my heart tender and vulnerable and it is difficult to remind myself that what I do is worthwhile despite the pain of carrying someone’s sufferings with me. I have to believe that even though our hearts are being torn, the love and beauty we find together is worth it. I have to believe that making someone feel needed, accepted and loved is worthy of our hearts. I have to believe that beauty will keep calling us back to communion, whether it is in nature, music or the wonder of our human family.
This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that my heart has been entrusted to these people for a short while.
Peace and prayers,
Erin Carey, BWSC Volunteer