While I’m not being consistent about completing the Dynamic Catholic spiritual exercises daily, I have begun reading Genevieve Glen’s Lenten reflection book, “Not by Bread Alone.”. I picked up a copy from my parish on Ash Wednesday. Though I don’t always read the reflections daily, I was taken by a passage called “Later.”
The gospel for the reflection was the story of the rich man and Lazarus. It was one of my favorite stories in my children’s Bible. Lazarus is a homeless beggar who sits outside a beautiful palace occupied by a rich man. The rich man is treated to sumptuous feasts and enjoys a luxurious lifestyle. Lazarus sits outside with dogs as his only friends. Both men eventually die. Lazarus goes to paradise. The rich man goes to hell. The rich man realizes the error of his ways and he wants his living siblings to repent now. Abraham tells him it’s too late.
Often I turn away from doing good works because I’m planning to do them at later times. I have other timelines to meet. I have various deadlines at work and in my job search. I’m always bound by time. I also believe I can do more for others later.
As part of the reflection, I was asked to identify three works of mercy that I keep delaying. I have discussed my struggle with forgiveness.(Spiritual well-check) I don’t give enough time and money to works of service. I grapple with financial management. This year I’ve been better about having a budget and being more practical with my spending. I do volunteer at my daughter’s school and organizations that meant so much to me. But these are not enough. I was supposed to serve dinner at Glide memorial but it was canceled for several reasons. I know I could be doing more for the homeless. My dance sisters have been providing lunch at a homeless encampment. They are doing so because they are women of faith. I need to take more initiative and take part soon.
I have been experiencing frustration, anger, and helplessness this season. Nevertheless, I have many blessings. I should share my wealth through giving my time and money. There’s no later; there’s only now. I don’t want to be like the rich man. I do not want to waste my life on what matters little.
“We are all connected. You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind.” Mitch Albom
“To survive you must tell stories.” Umberto Eco
Tengo mucho que hacer and yet I always make time, somehow, when my alma mater comes calling. Every year, I read scholarship essays. I may have to carve out time between mommy duties after busy workdays. It is time well spent.
My task is to read 25 scholarship applications in a week’s time. The applicants are asked to detail their extracurricular activities and respond to three short essay prompts. They are asked to discuss their lives, their leadership, and their goals. As a former English teacher and Upward Bound teacher, I have spent hours helping high school students tell their story to colleges in a way that is authentic and compelling. It is no easy task. The scholarships for which I serve as a reader are earmarked for first-generation college students. More often than not, these young people balance family caretaking and part-time jobs with their busy schedules of honors and AP classes, club meetings, practices, and volunteer work. Their stories are worth hearing.
During my recent reading gig, I read stories that have made an impact on me. While some applications were less than engaging, there were some who stood out. My heart ached for the student with a lifelong health challenge. I felt teary-eyed for the young farmer whose reflections on love of land and animals were wise and poignant. I pondered the limitless courage of the child who raised both parents while they battled addiction. While I may never know whether or not these young people won the awards or admission, I did my small part to help.
I cannot lose sight of the opportunities I was given. I was one of those students. Someone saw my potential and helped me. I will not stop offering those opportunities to others. In return, I am blessed with the gifts of inspiration and motivation. I am reminded of my purpose.
Grr-rah! I left hot San Leandro after a fun conversation with my bff, Lisabet(who else would find my recent diagnosis the stuff of comedy? I can see it all now…an American update of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown with cosmos instead of gazpacho)for a BART ride with my iPod and a book Work Mommy let me borrow back when Play Brother first got sick. I jumped out into the familiar Berkeley gray chill(wasn’t that always the case? Little Ms. Hayward wearing no socks and having no jacket)and headed straight for the Alumni House.
I volunteer for Alumni House events and activities at least 3 times a year. It keeps me connected to Cal and gives me a reason to BART into Berkeley. I still get a rush as I walk up through the grove of trees and look up at the Campanile. And I do get a kick out of reading scholarship applications and making small talk with my fellow Bears. I needed that reminder of myself. I was especially pleased to run into two old acquaintances, one a woman from my admin credential program and another a woman with whom I spoke on a career panel. It was nice to be able to say, “Yes, I’m still an AP.”