By Mo Kelly
A friend recently gave me a book called “The Story of a Soul” by St. Thérèse of Lisieux, a well-known saint in the Catholic Church. As I read her autobiography, I couldn’t help but put it in the context of the inspiring work and hearts of the volunteers I see each week. Thérèse was a young girl in Lisieux, France who joined a convent at the age of 15. She was seeking a life not of praise and exposure, but of humble service to God and to others. “God would never inspire me with desires which cannot be realized; so in spite of my littleness, I can hope to be a saint.” Her “littleness”, as she called it, was so thought-provoking that she was instructed to put her life and thoughts into writing in hopes of encouraging others.
She had articulated what I had been long thinking about my volunteers… These folks come from every experience and every corner of life to be in relationship with others in their own “little” way. They’re not asking for publicity, for admiration for their good works, for a Facebook post that will improve their image. They come, each week, to serve and be served, and leave with full hearts. It has become my image of selflessness.
These volunteers have also taught me that we don’t need a fancy degree or any special certification to serve the person in front of us. We can simply listen and offer our presence, our “little” gifts that are received in a big way. I so often want to tell each and every one of them how special they are and how much they are transforming others, but I’ve learned that I will be met with a gentle head shake and a “No, there are so many who are more impactful than I am”. I humbly disagree. In the words of St. Thérèse, “The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness”. Our little gifts, our different ways of showing love and care, are equally important and necessary in this world. The calming presence of one person is only strengthened by the contrasting vibrant energy of another. We need both your youth and your experience, your love of sports and your appreciation of art, your practical work ethic and your joy of conversation.
I have been deeply touched by the little and big gifts that each of my volunteers have shared with Broad Street Ministry. This world would be a far lesser place without you caring enough to act for others. Thank you for making me a better person and for allowing me to bear witness to the goodness of others. And, most importantly, thank you for continuing to take ownership of the little ways in which you give love.