By Maria Hartz
Shauna Niequist writes in her book Present Over Perfect that “I’m learning that body and soul require more tenderness and attentiveness than I had imagined” – a lesson I’m also learning for myself as I’ve begun my journey as a CAP volunteer. Recently while leading a devotion with some fellow volunteers on Retreat, I asked everyone in our circle to choose one word that best described what they were feeling or going through in that moment, and talk a little about what that word meant for them. The word I happened to choose during that devotion was “presence” – and what was calling for my presence in that moment. And now, after spending even more time in Kentucky with CAP, I’ve become a lot more conscious about not only my presence, but also my community’s presence and God’s presence.
Arriving in Kentucky and getting established with a house full of strangers that I was suddenly supposed to refer to as my “community” was a tad overwhelming. I struggled the first couple of weeks with feeling the need to update every single person I care about at home with every single detail of my new life; as well as trying to have meaningful conversations with my community members about how our days went, how we were feeling, funny random conversations, etc. I realized I was struggling so much because I was trying to be present to too many different people. I decided it was time to make the conscious effort to make sure I was devoting the majority of my presence to the people I’m surrounded with, and I have been enjoying the people I’m around so much more because of it!
Aside from being conscious of my own presence, I’ve also become a lot more conscious and aware of God’s presence on this journey. I cannot count the number of times that I have sat back in my chair and acknowledge the fact that God was present in that moment – and reminded myself to be present to Him as well. Whether I was in a kayak on the lake at Camp AJ, sitting on the top of Flat Rock admiring the beauty of the mountains around me, or simply sitting in my living room having a conversation with my housemates, it’s a powerful thing to acknowledge that God is also there with you.
I’m looking forward to the next year of being present to my service, my community, and my faith – and everything that it brings. It’s not always going to be perfect, but it most certainly will be worth it.
Maria graduated from the College of St Rose in 2017 with a degree in Spanish. She is serving as Volunteer Groups Host and living in the Mount Vernon Volunteer Community. Opinions expressed in volunteer blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of CAP or the Volunteer Program.