Monday, August 24, 2015

Marianist Monday

Marianist Brother Peter and Brother Patrick moderate a group of Chaminade High School students yearly at Nazareth Farm. The reflection below is from one of the participants from this year's program.

The Nazareth Farm journey, from the arrival on Sunday night to the closing prayers on Saturday morning, takes the unsuspecting volunteer through a unique and unforgettable experience. Having been a first-time volunteer this summer, I fell right into that unsuspecting and unforgettable category. I quickly realized though, in the Catholic mission of Nazareth farm, from its four cornerstones to its daily provisions of small miracles, that one of its central pillars that encompasses the total experience is a theme of "encounter." By "encounter", I mean a theme of meeting. Simply put, in my time at Nazareth farm I believe I, along with all the other volunteers, met three people or groups of people throughout the course of the week: the community in the farm, God, and myself more deeply. These three "encounters" made my experience at Nazareth Farm what it was, and I think it at least played a role in the other volunteers' experiences.

From the beginning to the end the farm is a social experience. I had the blessing of meeting many new people throughout but the most outstanding group of people to affect me were the other volunteers, staff members, and sojourners. Once I arrived they were all over me and they brought such a welcoming feeling that remained throughout the week. This warm welcome truly helps a volunteer get through a week in the rural and almost foreign land of West Virginia. The kindness of the other farmers has remained a defining reason as to my love for the farm after I left.

The second person I truly encountered in a deeper way was God. It is easy to say that I met God in Eucharistic prayer on Monday and Friday. Sure he was really there, but I felt that I saw Christ more fully in those I served: the poor and lowly. When I went on my first work site trip to repair a roof, I saw Christ in those I worked for. These people in particular, anyone could tell, truly needed the help and were extremely grateful. So grateful that they gave of what they had, which was very little. Seeing the appreciation and gratitude in the eyes of these people truly was like looking into the eyes of Christ.

Finally, I met myself in a way I had never imagined. Being put in the environment of Nazareth Farm, I was removed quite a bit from my comfort zone of relative luxury and my own social circles of home. Since I had never experienced anything like this before, I didn't know how I would react in such different situations. The farm though helped me bring about my best qualities to cope and deal with these various given situations and I now know how I reacted on impulse. In the future I can learn from my reactions and dealings to form my personality to always be more welcoming and kind.

In the end, Nazareth farm helped me meet the "big three" categories of people in my life: Others, God, and myself. Knowing these three major influences on my life more deeply, Nazareth Farm has satisfied me in these matters and I can honestly see myself back at the farm in the very near future.