One of my housemates always challenges us to find God in what we are doing; to find God in the service we do. She always tells me that this is what her Vincentian faith is rooted in; that if we don't think about this than we are missing a major component of our service. Coming from a Vincentian school myself one of the things I was taught early on at DePaul University was "service without reflection is just work". I am blessed to be able to say that this year at VSC West has been filled with God. Here is where I see God in what I am doing this year:
I am living with five other volunteers. Volunteers who just like me didn't really know what we were getting ourselves into this year. None of us were professionals in the fields we were going into here in San Francisco. As we all went through our orientations and starting learning more about our placements and work, I saw in my housemates dedication and focus. Hearing stories of their days and interactions they had with the people they were meeting was proof to me that my housemates care about the people they are serving and working with. Diving head first into the sea of people suffering from injustices and completely immersing themselves in those peoples lives is uplifting. We live in a world where we have to remind ourselves that there are good people out there; I live with five. It is genuinely inspirational to live with people who radiate with passion. This is where I see God.
This year I am working in the Tenderloin of San Francisco at The Gubbio Project. Our mission is to provide sacred sleep and rest to people who need it. We open the doors of St. Boniface Church at 6am; folks can then come in and lay down in the pews of the church. In the four months that I have been here my coworkers have taught me so much. I see them keeping up with laws and policies being implemented in the city and being truly disturbed when it negatively affects the population we serve here. I see them kneeling on the floor holding guests as they break down or are in need of medical attention. I see them honestly believe in our mission and the positive impact we can have to this suffering population. I see them dedicate their time to living out the mission of St. Vincent de Paul. This is where I see God.
I have met and created relationships with many of the guests we serve at Gubbio. These relationships are not all enjoyment and pleasure; they come with a lot of pain and sadness. I have met 17 and 18 year old homeless brothers. I have seen people fall and have seizures throughout the church. I have heard stories of suffering from addiction and eviction. I have seen bloody faces and torn up feet. I think about one guest in particular everyday. When I first started I would always see him laying down in the pews; he was quiet and reserved. One day he asked for my name and we slowly became friends. He was the first guest to start calling me by my name. A couple of months later he came up to me and asked for a blessing, he asked me for help. I talked to him for a bit and haven't seen him since then. Seeing the struggles and pain everyday, and then seeing the happiness and laughter that can still happen on top of everything else is heartfelt. This is where I see God.