Youth Who Live Justly, Show Mercy, Walk Humbly (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, August 15, 2014

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Youth Who Live Justly, Show Mercy, Walk Humbly (Feature Friday!)

A friend of mine volunteers at a nearby hospice, about once a week. She told me how awesome it was to have a large number of youth come to the hospice. This was several weeks ago, when the youth made blankets for the hospice patients. My friend saw how affected and moved the young people were. Talk about emotion!

This activity moved and intrigued me. It’s not the typical activity for youth to do, much less a large number of youth. So, I asked my friend Ann where the young people were from. Which group sent them? St. Viator’s High School in Arlington Heights was the answer.

I did a little footwork, and found the contact information I needed. After a bit of telephone tag, Father Cory Brost and I finally were talking, person to person. He heads up St. Viator’s High School as President. He told me about an amazing summer program at the high school for youth 6th grade to 9th grade (just entering high school). It’s a one week service camp called “Praise and Service.” He related about the two different tracks in the camp, one choir track and the other track for service opportunities. Service and song make up the core of St. Viator’s mission, alongside of the importance of education excellence.

This summer camp had a total of 108 students in attendance in the camp the third week of July 2014, from 12:30 to 5:30 pm. 70 were campers, 6th through 9th grades. The rest were high school-aged leaders and recent alumni as facilitators, helping the campers on both tracks make the most of the week of service. Plus, 12 adult leaders also participated.

80 students went out each day of the camp week. Fr. Cory wasn’t certain, but he suspected that these young people had 80 different responses to their activities. Different people were moved by differing aspects of their work. I thought that Fr. Cory’s appreciation for the individualized reactions was most welcome. Awesome!

I asked Fr. Cory about the visit to the hospice. Yes, he told me that many of the youth were deeply touched by the patients, and by the opportunity to make blankets for them. He also mentioned another afternoon activity later that week. The camp invited seniors from the community to St. Viator’s. The youth acted as hosts. Another opportunity to be kind, be helpful.

After Fr. Cory and I ended our wonderful conversation, I reflected on how deeply moving it was for St. Viator’s High School to be so loving and giving with their time, resources, and expertise. Truly, an opportunity for the youth to live out the tenets of Micah 6:8: Live Justly, Show Mercy, and Walk Humbly. God willing, I pray that I might have such enthusiasm. God, thanks for their excited, exuberant, emotional acts of helpful service. And, thanks for showing Your love through the service of others, too.


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Kindness to a Senior

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, August 11, 2014

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Kindness to a Senior

I don’t often go into department stores. It’s not that I don’t like shopping. (I do!) But, I try to find what I need and can use at resale shops (first) and outlets (second). And, I am sincerely trying to reduce what our family purchases. We live in a small condominium, and it’s filled with stuff as it is. We do not need more stuff. (My husband heartily agrees.)

As I posted yesterday, my daughter and I went to a mall we do not ordinarily go to. We also went to a bona fide department store to purchase some things to take to college. As we came down the escalator from the second floor to the first, I saw a frail-looking senior sitting in a small, fold-up wheelchair. She was about twelve feet from the bottom of the escalator, near the corner of the jewelry counter.

I am still thinking about her, today. My conversation with her stuck in my mind, and I keep playing our brief interaction over and over. So, I thought I would blog about it today.

My daughter and I rode down the escalator, my daughter about two or three escalator steps ahead of me. I saw the senior from a distance, as I descended. She caught my eye. Sitting still, waiting patiently, while everyone else in my eyesight seemed to be busy—moving, doing, going, bustling around. I initially approached her because her thin knit shawl was all bunched up, lying in the crooks of her elbows. The position of the shawl looked uncomfortable. Plus, there was no one accompanying her. At least, not anywhere nearby.

I slowed my steps as I stepped off the escalator and turned her way. Yes, an aged senior, for sure. But one who was quick on the uptake. “Good afternoon, “ I said, stooping slightly. (That way, I could look at her face more directly, instead of towering over her.) “I saw your shawl. Are you comfortable with it where it is, right now? Or could I help you rearrange it?”

“Oh, aren’t you sweet. No, my shawl is fine where it is.” We exchanged smiles. She panned the area, as best she could. Her head was pitched slightly forward, and even in the wheelchair, her shoulders were stooped. “Are you looking for someone?” I asked. She transferred her gaze to me, trying to look up, in my face. “I don’t see my family. They’ve gone, I suppose.” She sounded a bit wistful, but still patiently waiting. “Oh.” I smiled again. My daughter was fast disappearing, down the aisle of the store. I quickly sent a glance at her, and then looked back at the senior.

“Bye,” the elderly woman said. She raised her hand, and almost smiled at me. I gave her one of my bright, friendly smiles in return, and wished her well. I hurried, and caught up with my daughter, who rolled her eyes at me for stopping to talk with the elderly woman in the wheelchair.

As I continue to reflect on this brief meeting, I can’t help but think of Micah 6:8, my verse for the month of August. The questions that come to my mind are: how can I live justly? To whom do I show mercy? How may I walk lovingly with my God? God willing, my interaction with this dear senior provided an example of how to fulfill this verse. Please God, help me live in this just, merciful, loving way.


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