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On service

Jesus_Mafa_Healing_of_Leper

What do you want of me Lord? Where do You want me to serve You?

Where can I sing Your praises? I am Your song. “Servant Song” by Jess Viray

Last Holy Thursday I wrote a reflection on being a servant. I pondered Jesus’ willingness to do challenging tasks such as washing his apostles’ feet, curing lepers, and hanging out with society’s outcasts. He explained how all of these tasks or actions were in line with his vision and mission. My mission and vision are about empowering others to become the very best version of themselves either through academic or personal growth. I am not always willing to do the difficult tasks such as forgiving myself and others, empowering myself, or taking time to truly serve.

I resist mercy. One of the audiobooks I enjoyed during Lent was Anne Lamott’s Hallelujah Anyway:  Rediscovering Mercy. I have enjoyed rediscovering Ms. Lamott. She is hilarious. I enjoy her honesty, wit and self-awareness. She has me cackling at times. I especially like how often she owns her pettiness and schadenfreude. I’m right there with her. These aspects of my personality are hilarious but they continue to stop my path towards holiness. So long as I am willing to catch a case for taking off on one of my enemies or even someone who merely annoyed me, I am not living out who I truly am. This is why I continue to pray for the strength to forgive myself for my flaws and to forgive others more readily.  

For many decades, I resisted doing things for myself. Like most people, I usually sacrifice self-care due to work or family. I have gotten better over the years about self-care and self-development. But it often takes an illness or an injury to get me to slow down and truly listen to myself. Like most leaders, I am my own worst critic. It is very challenging to not see failures as personal. Being good to myself continues to be a process.  

I miss having opportunities to serve. In the past few years, I joined colleagues and students  to serve at Glide Memorial dining room during Advent and Lent. While I consistently volunteer for organizations that are personally important to me like Girls Inc, I also need to serve the homeless.  I need to make service an integral part of what I do again. I need to make the time.

I am working towards being a servant in all aspects. Being a servant is not self-serving. It requires humility, dedication, patience, and strength.  

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Before it’s too late

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.”

lazarus-and-the-rich-man

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.

A reader’s reflections

By Emily Dickinson
“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. 
Image by Tom Grey

Back to my old stomping grounds

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.”

I’m still a Golden Bear.