I am confident that I have spent more time on a bus this year as an Episcopal Urban Intern than ever before in my life. I’d be a liar if I said I loved it always, but I have to admit it’s growing on me lately.
It isn’t the graffiti on the back of the bus seats (though it is occasionally pretty poetic) or the characters you meet (Turtle Guy: I’m looking at you) that have helped me change my perspective about my daily commute, but rather it has been my Lenten promise for this season. This year I have committed myself to spending part of my commute in the morning during these 40 days of intentional practice in meditation and gratitude. There is so much about this year and life in general that I have to be thankful for and I think that by dedicating time to this during an activity I used to really dislike, I will be able to shift my mindset and see the beauty of the day to day.
Here is a small sampling of the things for which I am grateful that I have been reflecting on as I start out this season:
1) My fellow corps members: I have the absolute privilege of being surrounded by some of the most compassionate, thoughtful, and unique people. We all have come from different places both literally and metaphorically, but we all came here to commit to a year serving the community in LA. Laughing with them, crying with them, and growing with them has been truly incredible.
2) My worksite: Working at Chrysalis has brought me much joy in the almost 7 months that I’ve been there. I have met clients and co-workers that inspire me. My favorite thing, I think, has been seeing the pride in a client’s eyes when the light switches and they realize that they can succeed, they are employable, and that they can really believe in themselves. To say that I’m lucky to get to witness that is a gross understatement and I’m endlessly grateful for the chance to share in that moment.
3) The challenges: I’ll be frank here—living in intentional community with 7 other people in one house is hard. Giving career advice and correcting misbehavior of grown men twice your age is hard. Seeing your own privilege and witnessing the stark differences between the stars on Hollywood Blvd and the poverty-stricken people sleeping there is hard. While it may not always be comfortable I am grateful for the opportunity to grow and stretch that make it worth it.
4) The little things: My time in this program is short, but it is so full of small opportunities and experiences that make me smile and remind me how beautiful this existence really is. Every Friday I visit a coffee shop on my walk from the bus stop to work and catch up with Peter, the kind and very generous owner who usually finds a way to send me off with extra cookies and pastries to go with my coffee. On that walk I pass a smiling guy I like to call Guy on a Bike who always gives a wave and a “good morning!” my way. How wonderful is that? These little blessings are not limited to my walk to work, of course, and include encouraging messages from house mates and shared food (because they know how much I hate cooking), thought-provoking sermons with the youth during church and good fellowship afterwards, beach trips on weekends and sunburns in February.
Though it has just begun, I can already see a shift in my thoughts about my commute. I’m hoping by the end of Lent I will have a greater appreciation for my time here as an EUI and a more generally positive outlook on the many blessings in my life.
These are reflections from corps members and alumni of Jubilee's Urban Service Programs. They cover topics ranging from the sun, fun and friends in in Los Angeles to the uncensored experiences of serving vulnerable populations in our beautiful city. These are Voices of Service.