by Kara McNamara, Precious Blood Volunteers Alumna
In my work for the past two years at an afterschool program for at-risk teenage boys, I got to see my students at their very best, at their screaming, fighting worst, and at every emotional stop in between. They certainly saw my full range of days too! I saw them go through hard times, saw them achieve great honors, saw them demonstrate resilience and ownership over their lives, saw them hurl ugly words at other children when they were hurting too badly to control themselves. I also, every so often, would have a luminous moment with a student in which I thought, This moment, right now, is exactly how God sees this child all of the time. I can think of an example in which one of the boys (who had been in foster care from a very young age and generally held himself apart from other people) celebrated his 18th birthday with us. We got him a cake with his name on it and sang to him and cheered his name (some of the students also tried to give birthday punches when I wasn’t looking). He was such a reserved, quiet young man, but in that moment, he couldn’t bite back his smile any longer, he couldn’t hold in the bright light inside him, and he let us see love and joy in his eyes. He quietly thanked everyone and mumbled something that sounded an awful lot like, “Love you guys.”
In looking at the transformation of this young man for those fleeting moments, I can remember thinking, This is why it’s so easy for God to love us. He must see us like this all of the time, with all of the potential for such good on full display.
In considering that moment, I was brought to thinking about all of the times that I’ve seen people at their best. Those moments are so inspiring, when you can see the purpose and joy living in a person. And I also thought about all the times I didn’t allow people to be their best or didn’t try to find their Creator in them. I missed so much beauty and joy in those missed opportunities!
In times of lack of unity and tension as we are seeing now on a large scale, we as Precious Blood people know that we must seek reconciliation, and as an initial step towards this, I am recommitting to seek Christ in those I meet, to encourage those around me to be the best version of themselves, and to recognize my own identity as God’s creation when I’m not at my best. If we could even begin to see each other as God sees us, our world could be a place of such healing and love, not division and hopelessness. If we can find that commonality, we can then begin to do the hard work that must come to address pain and inequality: standing in the margins, holding steadfast as peacemakers in the midst of tension, and starting the work of realizing God’s vision for the human family and environment.
After all, as Mother Teresa shared, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.” I hope you’ll join me in working and praying for reconciliation and recognition of God’s presence in those around us.
Kara McNamara served as a Precious Blood Volunteer in Crownpoint, New Mexico in 2013. She is a graduate of the University of Dayton.
To apply to become a Precious Blood Volunteer go to http://preciousbloodkc.org/pbv-apply/