In all of my work with people over the years, I have always come with the intention to help in some way: to do some teaching or (perhaps) to improve the lives of others in some way. As life would have it, I discover that I am also there to receive something from the people I encounter in my work. I find even the occasional brute had some life lesson to offer! Thanks to the various people with whom I have served, I have gained wisdom, joy, a broadened perspective, a paradigm shift. These have all been some of the unanticipated gifts I have received and I have been grateful for them.
Our collaborative effort in B-SAFE with our program staff and participants with our Episcopal church partners has been no different. Sometimes, when our partners come together with B-SAFE participants, it can be like two worlds colliding. However, this kind of colliding is not the disastrous kind. This is the kind that includes excitement and possibility. There is a sense of welcome with each encounter; I observe the young people reaching out toward the partner volunteers. I observe the humility, the diligence, and, in nearly every case, the gladness with which the partners are serving. Each day at lunch and each Friday on the full-day field trips, I have had a front row seat at an orchestral symphony of service happening right in front of me.
I admit it; I was initially apprehensive about what this part of B-SAFE was going to be like. I am someone who has very strong ideas and feelings about issues of class and race. This experience with B-SAFE has been an eye-opener. I feel I have discovered a deeper truth, one that is both extraordinary and simple: It all comes down to intention. Despite the pre-existing, sometimes tense dynamics that can be at play between groups of people of different races, places of origin, age, and income levels, what I see is that if people bring with them the intention to act in love then act in love they will. And when they do this, when we do this, the result is something very beautiful. Young people are ready and willing to receive this kind of love. And, fortunately, many of our partners are the kind of people who intend to show love.
After all, does not ancient wisdom (Psalm 133) tell us that it is both good and pleasant for people to live together in unity?
By Asjah Monroe, Site Manager of B-SAFE at Epiphany LEARN
Asjah Monroe was born and raised in Boston, MA where she attended UMass Boston, earning her graduate degree in education there. She really enjoys working with elementary school-aged students and, in her free time, she can be found watching an inordinate number of cat videos.