Monday, October 10, 2011

The Language of Our Hearts

I felt I would share this, my reflection for the October AMA Newsletter:

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller
            If you had asked me two months ago what my life would be like right now, I don't think I could have given you much.  I was so nervous going into this year, not knowing what to expect for my work and also how living in community would be.  I was worried about so many things, that I don't know if I truly was able to feel excited about this year in Worcester until I was actually on the plane leaving Philadelphia headed to Worcester.
            Upon arriving at the airport in Boston, both Liz and I were wrapped in hugs immediately by Beth.  We had just met her and here she was giving us the most welcoming and comforting hugs a person can get when in a totally new and strange place, or so I thought.  Later that night we had dinner with the sisters for the first time, and again, we were wrapped up in such welcoming and comforting hugs.  I had just met all of these people and I immediately felt ok with whatever would be thrown at me this year, because I knew that I would have all of these people supporting me.  This first day of orientation, of being in Worcester, MA, I knew I belonged here.  I felt in my heart that I belonged.
            This feeling of belonging continued after that first day and continues today.  When we (Liz and I) were introduced to the St. Peter's Church Community, we were embraced by the parish and welcomed as "one of them".  This also put me at ease with the work I would be doing, knowing how much support and prayer was coming from the church for the programs we would be working with.  Also, all of the various organizations we helped with in the first few weeks we were here embraced us and welcomed us whole-heartedly into the Worcester community.  I think all of these experiences of being welcomed, of feeling like I belong, prepared me for all of the work I have done and will be doing this year.  These feelings are something that are felt in the heart and speak to me in such a different way.
            The middle of September meant the start of the mentoring and ESL (English as a Second Language) programs.  I was excited to get started with both, knowing that the bulk of my time, and quite possibly my energy, would be spent with these programs.  September 20th was the first day of ESL, and for the first two classes I was "just" assisting the teacher, or so I thought. The first day I helped out with what I could in the lesson, assisted the students while the teacher was working with someone else, what I thought to be pretty simple things. 
            The next day, September 21st, was the first day of the mentoring program.  Some of the first kids at the program were the daughter and son of one of the students in the ESL class I was helping with.  The woman had spoken about her children the previous day as she was introducing herself to the class, so I had heard a little bit about the kids.  When she walked in to drop her kids off for mentoring she was extremely excited to see me and then said to her kids, "I want you to meet my teacher, this is my teacher."   She was so proud of the fact that I was her teacher and that I, as her teacher, was able to meet her kids, and just the tone in her voice made it evident how happy she was with all of this.  After the mother left the daughter said to me "So you're my mom's teacher?!  That's so cool!  I like that you're my mom's teacher."  I realize that although I felt what I was doing in the class was minimal; I had connected with this woman on a much deeper level, which she had then relayed to her kids through a simple introduction. I have my own ESL class now.  It is exciting to be teaching on my own now, and I also hope that I can have a similar experience connecting with my class.  I know whatever it was that happened in that first day of ESL had some affect on her and definitely impacted me.  Hopefully that will stay with both of us as this year continues.
            I think right from the beginning, all of the feelings of welcome and belonging were showing me what I needed to know for this year.  It all was showing me how to welcome others and make them feel like they belong, to connect on a much deeper level.  While we may not always speak the same language as someone, we can always connect on the much deeper level, the language of the heart, and in that way we all speak the same language.
            A song, "I Was Here" by Lady Antebellum, which I only heard for the first time a few days ago really spoke to me about what I really want to do this year, and I think I am on my way to doing what this song talks about.  I also feel that this year, while I may touch some hearts, I feel like so many people will touch my heart, I know so many already have in such a short time.
"I wanna do something that matters
Say something different
Something that sets the whole world on its ear
I wanna do something better
With the time I've been given
And I wanna try
To touch a few hearts in this life
Leave nothing less
Than something that says 'I was here'"