I remember my first post-college work experience, which took me from my hometown in rural Pennsylvania to Jackson, Mississippi. I was a full-time volunteer in a faith-based service learning and social justice program. Through that experience I began to encounter a new side to my faith, seeing distinct links between my personal spiritual growth and social justice, which turned into service and action.
Working at a community center, I did everything from coordinate volunteers to publish the donor newsletter to teach an after-school class of kindergarten and first graders. The community center was in a low-income neighborhood. Poverty and economic hardships were all around. I led an assistance program at the center that prepared community members’ income taxes for free. In our first year, community members claimed tens of thousands of dollars in tax benefits they were owed, but could have gone unclaimed or been lost to advertised “instant rebates,” otherwise known as short-term, high-interest loans. I began seeing Jesus’ teaching of economic justice and working with the poor lived out before me.
My time in the volunteer program also brought with it a changing circle of friends. I found myself drawn closer to fellow volunteers I’d known for only a couple months than to the friends I’d known back home and in college for years. And the idea of home — a place I lived in for the previous 23 years — expanded into a broader, bigger place. Home became something inside of me and not rooted in a location.
‘The Road Not Taken’
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
(from “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost)
While it might not be an exact metaphor, those lines from Robert Frost crossed my mind often at that time. I was beginning to see two paths — stay home and start a “career” or move away, taking more time to figure out what I wanted out of life. And the decision wasn’t easy. It always takes me an incredibly long time to figure out what to eat for lunch or what outfit to wear, so how was I supposed to decide which direction to take with my life? I spent hours making “pros vs. cons” lists and talking with friends about what I should do, but ultimately I had a campus minister give me the best advice, advice I still give myself and others in times of deliberation. Looking at the two roads before me she said, “You can’t make a bad decision.”
And I didn’t. It’s because of that choice that I would eventually find myself living and working in New York City. My decision to come to Busted Halo was rooted in a desire to be part of the spiritual journey of young adults — a journey I’m on, too. I think in the life of the Church today, young adult voices need to be heard and their stories need to be told. Young adults who are seeking to make sense of their spiritual selves want to make a difference in the world and often want to make a difference within their own church too. Busted Halo should be a place where young adults find equal parts support, challenge, humor, encouragement, inspiration, and spiritual growth. These are all parts of being a community — the Busted Halo community of spiritual seekers.
My ideas about faith and spirituality aren’t limited to spiritual practice. I identify as a young adult seeking a meaningful spiritual connection in all parts of life — vocational, political, economical, environmental, and social. I connect with the lives of other women who made these connections, specifically Dorothy Day and Mother Teresa. Both women saw great need in the world and responded to that need with faith and conviction. Their outreach to the poor exemplifies the role the Church and individuals can play in reaching out to the marginalized in today’s world.
These two women led movements that not only continue to work with the poor, but also engage people of all (economic) backgrounds in common goals of sharing hospitality and showing God’s love to those in need. And when I think about today’s Great Recession and the economic despair shared by people in the United States and around the world, I know that Dorothy Day and Mother Teresa’s work is not finished.
I look forward to (and have been enjoying) working at Busted Halo and continuing to dig into topics that matter to young adults. I look forward to being a fellow seeker on life’s spiritual journey filled with questions and challenges. And most of all, I look forward to creating (with you) a space where young adults can be inspired, empowered and transformed.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts and dreams for what Busted Halo should be and how it can be a better resource for you. With your feedback Busted Halo will continue to grow as a community of spiritual seekers and become a place where young adults find a home. Let me hear your ideas.