Ruined for life

The slogan/catchphrase/tag line for Jesuit Volunteer Corps is “Ruined for Life” and it rings very true for a lot of former JV’s and is felt by many current JV’s, yours truly included.  Here is some good insight on the motto from the perspective of current JV’s, Jesuits and support people within the JVC community; though not a current article, its message is still true.

The more articles I read, blogs I follow, non-profits I discover and people I meet, I uncover new ways to look at the same topic or discover a new topic entirely.  Sure, I try to be socially conscious but I am learning new things everyday about the things I once took for granted: for example, Chipotle burritos are delicious and many shops are able to use some local ingredients.  But it was only a few months ago that I really heard about the awful ways in which farmworkers are treated by this company (and so many others.)

If farmworkers are paid sub-poverty wages for backbreaking work harvesting heirloom tomatoes that end up on the tables of wealthy, health-conscious consumers, is this food chain “sustainable”?

This is not me getting up on a soapbox, telling people to stop eating Chipotle.  I’ve been blessed to realize at a young age that we must surround ourselves with people who challenge us in positive ways to be the best version of ourselves. People like Jeremy, who is currently in Punta Gorda, Belize for two years, running a school library.  Or someone like Alex, freelance environmental writer, FU class of 2009 and local enthusiast.  It was from my housemate Christie that I learned about farmworkers and immigrant rights; things I had been exposed to but always thought I was too busy to really take a look at and learn about.  Its not about having time for something, its about wanting to commit your time to a cause you believe in.

We had our second area visit this week with out JVC area director, Jillian who is a former JV.  Its been about six months (!) that we’ve been in Hillsboro and we have six months left until our term ends at the end of July.  We had check-ins with Jillian to talk about how our community functions and works, or doesn’t work and where we hope to go individually and as a community in the next six months.  Its an interesting mix, being part realist and part idealist.  I have a pretty good grasp on what I DON’T want to do and what I could cross off the career list and I am excited by the idea of creating my own career or nonprofit in coming years.  I am conscious now, more than I have ever been, of my place in the world and what potential there is for tapping into resources all around me to make the deepest desire of myself meet the world’s great need. (Thanks St. Ignatius.)

So, I might not know where I’ll be in a few months or a few years but I am certain that I am equipped to do what it is I am called to.  Right now, it is presenting a poster about turtle habitat at an urban ecology conference.  It is engaging with students in restoring an overflowing and eroding creek, showing them their potential to be stewards of this Earth we have been blessed with.  It is appreciating the hard work and dedication of students as they present their science fair projects they have worked on since November.

Appreciate the gifts in the everyday.  Live into the unanswered questions.  Love without reason or judgement.  These things I say to you, I attempt to live them myself.  I am ruined for life and I see nothing wrong with that.

A friend sent me a quote on a photo a few months ago and though simple, its quite an amazing thing to reflect on.  Work for peace and spread love, my friends!

On the day you case to change, you cease to live. – Anthony de Mello, SJ


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