Our penultimate question: How have you found God in service?
Ignatius could not have been clearer about this. “Love,” he says, “ought to manifest itself in deeds rather than words.” [EXX 230] and later adds, “Thus, one always gives to the other.” [EXX 231]
I learned this lesson fairly early on. As a Jesuit novice, I was somewhat discomfited to discover that we would be spending Christmas Day not opening gifts and watching stupid movies on TV but, instead, that we would be at an orphanage playing with, entertaining and feeding the children. Much to my surprise, however, this didn’t ruin Christmas – it turned it into a feast that was much more joyous than any of the traditional holidays I had previously experienced. We gained far, far more than we gave.
Not all my service opportunities have been so delightful: I have sweated through some, frozen through others, moaned and groaned, wished myself elsewhere and have generally been a pain in the neck. And yet, whenever I’ve been able to be of real help to someone, it has been a total blast.
I love witnessing the service of others. My colleague, Carrie, for instance, volunteers to clean out our fridges every few weeks. We are so thoughtlessly messy that this task is akin to cleaning the Augean Stables, but she does it selflessly and with cheer.
God bless her and all those who give of themselves to others!