Friday, April 13, 2012

Being Present Today

This morning when I woke up and looked at the date I could hardly believe we are already half-way through April! Where has this year gone? It seems like only yesterday we were sitting together as a student staff writing our covenant. I remember sitting in that room and being in complete awe of my co-workers. I realized I was surrounded by an incredible group of people and I couldn’t wait to get started with the year. Now, as I sit here and write this I cannot believe that our year is coming to a close. We have a month left and I know it will fly by. But as this year comes to its end I am starting to feel torn and a little bit confused.
As could be said by every member of our staff, the next four months are coming with a lot of change. For many, they are graduating from Calvin and are looking at the next phase of life, for others we are coming back to Calvin, but in a completely different way. For me, I will be student teaching. I am still a student at Calvin by my time on campus will be limited next school year and my year will look much different from my previous years at Calvin. With this being said, I find myself struggling with the idea of presence and what it means for me to be present in this community while continually looking forward and preparing for the community I am about to enter in to.

In our covenant we dedicated four questions to the idea of presence. Each one deals with a different aspect of this idea but the one that I am continually asking myself is the second question, “What does it mean to be fully present in a place? What does it look like?” This is what I continually come back to. What does it mean for me to be present in this office and in the broader Calvin community while also preparing myself to leave? How do I remain fully present here while anticipating my soon move to an entirely new community?
I have been asking these questions for a while now and have yet to reach any sort of conclusion. I have no idea. But, isn’t that what our covenant is all about, living the questions? I can honestly say I am living this question every second of each day. But I also know that I do not walk this journey alone. This past summer a friend of mine introduced me to this prayer and I find it fitting with where I am today:

May today there be peace within. 
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. 
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. 
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. 
May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love. It is there for each and every one of us.

This simple prayer by Mother Theresa reminds us all that we don’t need to worry, because we are where God wants us to be. So how do we remain present when we are soon leaving? I don’t know. But I do know and take comfort in the fact that God is walking this journey with us and although we are at a crossroads, He knows what will happen next. So, to my fellow staff members who I now lovingly call friends, may you find peace within and may you know that you are where you are meant to be. And even with all the uncertainty that comes with a new phase of life, you will continue to be exactly where God has meant for you to be.

~ Ana

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Chris Appreciation Day 2012

Hi, my name is Cameron, I work in the S-LC. This is my first time posting on the blog.

There are so many things to say, about the Service-Learning Center, about the folks who work there, about faith and justice, about struggle. I could right a hundred posts, but you'll all have to settle for just one for now.

To begin, the leadership in the S-LC is the best there is at Calvin (probably the world). Noah and Megan Kruis, Fondse, Jeff Bouman. These names should forever be remembered in Grand Rapids for their commitment to service and student growth. For those of you who don't know, the S-LC has the most autonomous student leadership at Calvin. We do such a good job because we have great mentors and role models in the office to walk by our sides.

I am relatively new to the "official" staff members here. I was a transportation assistant last year and last semester, but was "promoted" in January. I always knew how special the office was, and how wonderful and close the community of students working there seemed to be. Now that I am officially in on all the fun, I have experienced their love and warmth first hand. (I apologize, to my co-workers, at my seeming inability to reciprocate this warmth sometimes.) I could list a thousand examples of this love, but I will keep it to just one (maybe two).

This week, in the S-LC, we planned the annual "Chris Appreciation Day." Chris is our lovely, beautiful, brilliant secretary. As anyone will tell you, she runs the office. She keeps all our schedules, she knows where everything goes, and the majority of the time when a student walks into the office and Chris ISN'T there, we look dumbfoundedly at the student and say, "Chris will be back soon?"

She totally makes it all hang together, and the self-consciousness of this fact in our office is a matter for rejoicing. We all know we couldn't do it without her, so once a year the student staff puts together a day, a random day, to show their appreciation for Chris. I won't divulge the details of this year's operation because she may be reading (she keeps up on everything). But I will say that I am very excited. An email went out last night discussioning ideas, with requests for a number of tasks to be done in preparation. The first three emails in the chain after this initial "request" email were essentially, not verbatim, "Oh yeah, I'll do that." "I'll do that." "I'll do that."

It was INSTANTANEOUS. I read them this evening and was FLOORED at the out-pouring of love and service. You' think in an office of what, 15? that somebody would be thinking, "Hmm, I'll let someone else do that." But no, not here; already busy students jump at the opportunity to serve a co-worker. I was inspired and uplifted, and to be honest a little shamed. I don't think I would have been able to do that. The more I interact with these wonderful, beautiful, lovers I am challenged to change and to grow.

And again, this all goes back to leadership. We have some darn good bosses. Can I get an amen?

Another quick example. Last meeting Jack Organ (you know him, you love him) suggested that we all start hugging each other upon entering the office. His rationale, "Well, you need 20 hugs a day to be healthy." Like it's a fact! What other office does that? What office would be comfortable doing that?

This post could have, probably would have been, a theological mess, from a person filled with doubt and struggling to see God in the everyday. I could have rambled about my personal story or my struggle this week with not seeing God. Or I could have LIED and written about how wonderful God is and how important it is to pray and fast and all that. But I didn't have too. I was genuinely struck this night by the human love I saw out-poured because of the pursuit of Jesus.

And I got to thinking, maybe that's the point. Forgetting for a second the fallacies inherent in most theology, the problem of evil argument, the actual problem of evil in the world, doubts about God's presence, and about his plan, forgetting all that "heady" stuff for a second that we (I) so easily get caught up in, and focus on these simple actions by these Christ followers. What an inspiration. It makes me think that the Gospel might essentially be about action, not merely conviction.