Doing the Dishes

Hi friends! I was scheduled to blog last week and dropped the ball, so this week you get two posts!

Before I get to my reflection, though, I want to invite you to check out our updated about page (complete with a beautiful biography sheet, made by Claire, which you can print if you’re so inclined). You can friend us or like us on Facebook as well, and of course you’re invited to the first community dinner, which will take place on Sunday, Sept. 20 at St. Stephen’s.

We are in the midst of figuring out our life together, but we are always open to suggestions on how to best connect with the greater community, so please don’t hesitate to give feedback or ask questions.

Thank you!

Olivia

Orientation Retreat Fire

I once watched a video of volunteers from the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, an organization similar to ESC, speaking about their experience doing a year of service, and one observation that struck me was this: “Everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to do the dishes.”

Powerful, right?

In fact, I liked it so much that I even mentioned it in my ESC application.
As we start week four together and week three at work, I’ve been trying to keep this mantra in mind, because, while I would love to be literally feeding the hungry, it’s more helpful in my position at Feeding Pennsylvania that I spend time scheduling posts on Twitter.
While it would be great to serve St. Stephen’s by starting a new ministry, we are actually most needed to hang art, or cook dinner, or spend an afternoon sorting hundreds of books by genre.
I might want to undertake a vast project for the house, like turning our third floor into a creative, relaxing loft, but actually, right at this moment, the best thing I could do is the dishes. Or to clear the table. Or spend my Sunday afternoon shopping for groceries.
A deep theological discussion would be great, but what a housemate really needs is a hand to hold or help cleaning the bathroom or someone to flip the pancakes.
We have been on the receiving end of much hospitality in our few weeks here, so much that it’s brought us to tears (see Bea’s post!).  And in this process, it’s been the little things, the things that won’t change the world but make our lives a tiny bit easier in the now, that inspire me the most.
Things like:
  • Kathy running home to get sheets because I brought the wrong size for my bed
  • A mentor taking a mentee out to coffee or dropping off some things for us
  • Convincing housemates with cars to drive to Dairy Queen late at night
  • Wanting dark chocolate to take for lunch for a few weeks, not being able to fit it in the grocery budget, and then being surprised with more chocolate than we know what to do with
  • Housemates that pre-cut vegetables so it’s easier to pack lunches in the morning
  • A supervisor finding out that a Sycamore was sleeping on a borrowed pillowcase and insisting on a trip to HomeGoods
  • A choice of color in library cards
  • A borrowed bicycle

There are many, many more examples that I could give, but I’ll stop there for now. One of my prayers this year is that I do the metaphorical dishes with a cheerful heart and that I see what needs to be done. And even when it feels like I should be doing something more important? Sometimes, what really needs to be done are the dishes.

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