Abundance Fills the Soul When Excess Is Stripped Away

2021-2022 Precious Blood Volunteer, Aaron Wise

By Aaron Wise, Precious Blood Volunteer

I called her name. She rose slowly from her chair in the waiting room and hobbled toward me. She gifted me an enthusiastic greeting and a labored smile, that which is socially expected for decency. We entered the exam room, and I initiated the pre-provider tasks: taking vitals, gathering medical and family histories, conducting necessary point-of-care testing, etc. 

Something appeared off. 

Clearly, something deeper ailed my patient. I asked about her day, her holiday plans, her family. I found out the upcoming Thanksgiving would be difficult for her—the first one since losing her daughter. I asked about her daughter. I experienced my sister in Christ’s delight in sharing the memories of someone she loved so dearly. She showed me a beautiful, goofy video of her with her daughter—singing, dancing, and laughing. She teared up, a paradoxical moment of sadness and joy. Her heart was broken; from it oozed the Precious Blood, a combination of both suffering and pure love.

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Aaron Wise, at work at KC CARE Health Center

Small drops of blood discolored the white floor. The patient had stepped on a nail in his garage, leaving a small, deep hole in his foot. I cleaned and wrapped the wound, yet this man had little concern for his foot. 

He feared for his mind. He told me he wasn’t right—that something was wrong with his brain, that he was “messed up” in the head. He told me he’d done many drugs and other substances. He’d seen psychiatrists and been given many medications meant to help. None of them worked. He told me he would try one more thing, and if that didn’t work, he had “other arrangements” to take care of it. 

I don’t know what this man has been through in the past. I don’t know what he is going through in the present. But I do know the life of my brother in Christ means something. He has an indelible dignity, despite the ways in which the world, those around him and he, himself, asserts that he is “messed up.” 

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It was 2:30 on a warm Saturday afternoon. I was driving home with two friends along Independence Avenue, a busy road in Northeast Kansas City. On a patch of grass between the sidewalk and the road was a body—just yards from my residence. 

I didn’t see it initially, but my friend insisted we return to check. People walked along the sidewalk, past the body. Several cars passed. From a distance, I got a better view of the man. His hat was thrown to the side, his body disheveled and uncomfortably positioned. One arm was raised and yellow. It was clear my brother in Christ was not breathing. 

As we approached, a lady called out from a car to inform us she had called 911. Later, she revealed she had driven by 20 minutes prior, on a delivery. She was appalled by the indifference of hundreds of people who must have witnessed a man unwell on the side of the road. A life had passed—and nobody cared to notice.

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thud, thud, thud, thud, thud! It was midnight. I awoke to a cacophonous banging on our door and windows. We answered. Our neighbor frantically reported the house next to ours was on fire. We raced to the other window to witness the entire west side of the building engulfed in flames.

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These are but four brief stories among hundreds I’ve experienced working at the KC CARE Health Center in midtown and living in Northeast Kansas City. Interestingly, a few similar connections underly each of these stories and the many others that remain untold. 

First, socioeconomic and racial barriers underpin each situation—access to health care, racism and discrimination, mental health stigmas, or scummy landlords who neglect their responsibility to respond to electrical issues. These injustices fall harder on minorities and those with less money. 

Second, suffering seems to be part of the human condition. There is nothing the individuals in these stories could have done to prevent their hardship. I don’t say this ignoring the role of free will. Yes, each individual may have made choices that contributed to their situations, but the options they had available were severely screened by culture and society, among several other determinants. 

Finally, God is present deeply with those who suffer. These are truths we recognize profoundly in the spirituality of the Precious Blood.

CS Lewis affirmed that heaven is an acquired taste. Jesus is my savior, and it is by His doings—not my own—that I will experience eternal life in union with God. Yet, if you were to bring me to heaven right now, I do not know if I’d like it. I still carry the taste of the world with me: pride, independence, self-servitude, sin. This contrasts with the purity and fullness of love that is heaven. However, through service and the experiences like those shared above, I’ve begun to acquire the taste of Christ. Community, simplicity, and prayer also have been formative for me during the past year.

I’ve practiced community on two levels this year: directly with those with whom I live and also with the global community. 

I live with 18 others, including two families with five children, and sharing life with them has been a beautiful joy. I experience this joy in the form of sharing meals, interests, events, and time. I have countless jubilant memories such as tennis, basketball, soccer, football, Frisbee, ice skating (I love sports), faith sharing, music, etc. 

In terms of the wider community, we focus on conservation, being involved in neighborhood and city policies, and living on a smaller income. Some of the practical aspects of this lifestyle are eating a vegetarian diet, consuming less water and electricity, composting, using a clothesline, paying attention to consumables and reusing when appropriate, and purchasing natural organic local products when available. There is a richness to sharing resources and life in this way.

Aaron with his fellow Precious Blood Volunteers in Chicago

Simplicity is a challenging ideal when we live in a chaotic world. Despite this, I still have been able to find simplicity relative to my previous student lifestyle. I live in a house without Wi-Fi and a phone signal because I strive to remove unnecessary and empty lifestyle choices. Often when we think about simplicity, we focus on what we “give up” and an image of emptiness is invoked. In practice, it is quite the opposite! Removing the superficial and unimportant gives way to a spirit of great abundance—especially in time, relationships and charity.

Finally, prayer is the cornerstone that links everything. My relationship with God has strengthened me to participate and grow in all the ways discussed and also has been strengthened through my experiences. Daily Mass is a joyous gift and receiving the Eucharist has been fuller and more transformative through walking with others as a Precious Blood volunteer.

This year has been formative as I’ve taken little steps along a lifelong journey to acquire the taste of heaven. I invite all of you to join in along the way. As echoed at Jerusalem Farm: The way is long, let us walk together; the way is hard, let us help one another; the way is Christ, Christ is the way.

Aaron served as a Precious Blood Volunteer at KC CARE Health Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Go to preciousbloodvolunteers.org to learn more about Precious Blood Volunteers.

2021-2022 Precious Blood Volunteers: Aaron Wise

2021-2022 Precious Blood Volunteer, Aaron Wise

We are thrilled to announce that Aaron Wise will be serving as a Precious Blood Volunteer for the 2021-2022 volunteer year. Aaron will serve at KC CARE Health Center in Kansas City, Missouri. He will live in community at Jerusalem Farm in Kansas City. He grew up in Huron, Ohio and attended Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Aaron graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, a Bachelor of Science in Spanish, and minors in Chemistry and Biology.

Why do you want to volunteer?

“Over the past 16 years, much of my focus has been in developing the intellect God has given me in an academic setting. While study, in its own way, can give glorify to God, it can also feel isolating and self-serving. I’ve been yearning to honor God in a more direct and simple way, and I feel called to service. Through this service, I aim to help and learn from those who are marginalized, with the hope that after this year, I may be better able to serve and advocate for those who suffer as a future physician.”

Why do you want to volunteer with Precious Blood Volunteers?

“I was drawn to volunteer with the Precious Blood volunteers because of their commitment to faith, community, service, and reconciliation. I think there is something very powerful in a community of people living simply, authentically, and intentionally for Christ. I’m really excited grow closer to God with these people!”

What are you looking forward to about your volunteer experience?

“I’m looking forward to learning and growing in community with other volunteers and those we serve, and encountering Jesus incarnated in those who are in need!”

Learn more about Precious Blood Volunteers at preciousbloodvolunteers.org.

The 2021-2022 Precious Blood Volunteers

We are excited to introduce the three new Precious Blood Volunteers! Over the next few days you’ll get to meet Aaron, Raechel, and Vincent at preciousbloodvolunteers.org.

2021-2022 Precious Blood Volunteer, Raechel Kiesel

2021-2022 Precious Blood Volunteer, Vincent Tedford

Raechel Kiesel and Vincent Tedford will be serving at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation in Chicago, Illinois. Raechel continues a tradition of University of Notre Dame alumni who have served with us. She comes from Indiana. Vincent graduated from Texas A&M University. He is the first graduate of Texas A&M to serve as a Precious Blood Volunteer, and our third volunteer from Texas.

2021-2022 Precious Blood Volunteer, Aaron Wise

Aaron Wise will be serving at KC CARE Health Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Aaron is our first volunteer from Case Western Reserve University. He continues in a long line of volunteers from the great state of Ohio.

Three volunteers from our previous batch lived in intentional Catholic communities in Chicago and Kansas City. This worked out well providing them places to share common life with people their own age. We are continuing with this for the 2021-2022 volunteer year. Raechel and Vincent will be living at Hope House, which is part of Port Ministries, in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in Chicago. Aaron will be living in community at Jerusalem Farm in Kansas City, deepening the long-term relationship the Kansas City Province has had with Jerusalem Farm.

They will begin their service next week during Orientation. Orientation begins on Monday, July 26 at Precious Blood Renewal Center in Liberty, Missouri. Please keep our new volunteers in your prayers.

To learn more about how you can grow in your faith by walking with others go to preciousbloodvolunteers.org

 

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2021

We join in celebrating International Women’s Day by sharing reflections from current Precious Blood Volunteers and alumnae. Enjoy!

Precious Blood Volunteers alumna, Lina Guerrero, with Sister Donna at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation in Chicago

Allison Spraul, a current Precious Blood Volunteer, sharing her reasons for serving

To learn more about serving as a Precious Blood Volunteer go to our website www.preciousbloodvolunteers.org

Precious Blood Volunteers Information Sessions for Fall 2020

Join us for one of our upcoming information sessions! Learn more about Precious Blood Volunteers, postgraduate service, and how you can grow while walking with and learning from others.

Past events