On the first Servant Year retreat, I accomplished one of my life goals: seeing a bald eagle. It may sound ridiculous but it really was something I held as an experience akin to spotting a phoenix or unicorn. Bald eagles are symbols of the majestic and serene natural world and of this great nation. I had just vocalized to the people around me that I had never seen one when I was told to look over and up towards the bay and when I did, I saw the most beautiful bald eagle soaring above the water. I recognized God’s beauty and timing in that moment. It was like hearing God say to me, “You are in the right place and I am with you.”
Another of my life goals is to help people. While the environment that I work in is not as picturesque, serene, and beautiful as the retreat house that I stayed at, there are just as many small examples of God reminding me that I am where I am supposed to be at the right time. Today I learned that my supervisor at the day shelter where I work two days a week, the Norristown Ministries Hospitality Center, does not have more than a few years to live. I knew that he had a disease called ALS that has limited his physical capabilities drastically but I did not know that the disease moved so quickly. I feel that I have a lot to learn from him and I am thankful that I am here to learn from him at this time.
At the retreat, I was able to reflect on the work that I do with the homeless by stepping back from it and realizing the strengths that I bring to my workplace. In day-to-day work it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger meaning of the work because of all of the small tasks that must be done, which require our compete attention. When those tasks are difficult or when they do not appear to have an important and immediate impact, it is even easier to forget what it means to be called to service.
For me, Servant Year is about growth and becoming more comfortable with myself and whatever God has planned for me. At the retreat we discussed the different types of strengths that each person brings to the table. We each took a survey to determine our most apparent strengths. Some things that I had felt were weak traits in myself were redefined as my strengths and I realized that it is not about moving past those parts that are inherent to our unique personalities but learning to view and use them in the light of their potential strength. This is a powerful and freeing realization. I look forward to learning more about myself and God as this year progresses. There are endless lessons to learn and I am thankful to be in the perfect place to keep learning.
Karitsa's Agency Placement is at St. John's Episcopal Church in Norristown.