There were many factors that flew me down to Houston, Texas, for my year as a Jesuit Volunteer. However, as I suspect may have been the case for others too, a sense of doubt accompanied my answers to curious and slightly disapproving questions from family, friends, and even my own internal inquisitions. Of course, the rehearsed repertoire of explanations were readily available: namely, the moral imperative to serve the poor and marginalized, the desire to live in a different culture, the hope to bring lasting change. Yet, as I rewrote and reenacted my lines at summer barbecues and bar nights downtown before Orientation, each interaction emboldened a louder and more obnoxious monster in my mind, trolling me with shrugged shoulders, hands and arms waving wildly, and the same simple and simultaneously earth-shattering question on its lips: WHY?!
Naturally, dramatization for effect is key to relay this message to y’all. At some point during the year, regardless of the messenger, we all came to grips with this prickly feeling of doubt. It slowly dawned on me throughout the year how truly radical this experience would be as I separated myself from friends entering careers, graduate school, and service in the military. I even denounced myself as undeserving to even participate in the program at times due to the shadow of students loans looming on the horizon. My favorite line of questioning in this internal interrogation came during my first full week in the Houston community. As Hurricane Harvey ravaged the city and my housemates and I quickly outgrew the “honeymoon phase” of our relationship, I couldn’t help but break out in a cold sweat and demand “What the f**k am I doing here…” As far as I know, at least some of my housemates can corroborate this pure panic, which at least partially consoled my extreme meltdown at the time.
Now this brings me to my motive for joining The Ruined Report. As I carried Why with me down Polk Street, into my placement site, around the corner to the raspas stand, and everywhere in between, I realized my deep and painful desire for spirituality. I constantly mulled over my relationships with my housemates, clients, and the greater Houston community for the roots of a relationship with God that I could claim as my own. Glimmers of this shone in small moments of joy, heartache, and redemption, and these are the experiences I hope to revisit and recount as I try to understand how they all relate to a lasting spirituality in the years to come. I hope that you join me in this pursuit and that my experiences then and now resonate with your own. Until next time, peace and happiness to you all.