Friday, December 07, 2012

Giving Thanks

The following is a reflection written by Ruth Elias, one of this year's North House Volunteers.

On a beautiful Thursday morning, I was faced with a difficult decision: whether to continue to lazily sleep in, or take the unfamiliar road by driving an hour away in an unfamiliar city to celebrate Thanksgiving with a family. Despite my weakness of often getting lost in this city, I finally decided to go. I got into the car and followed my written directions to John Lucas' house to celebrate Thanksgiving. Upon arrival, I was welcomed with happy smiles and laughter, and of course, delicious food. I had the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving Day surrounded with a wonderful company, delicious food and moments filled with joy. John's grandchildren infused me with great joy. Having the chance to celebrate my first Thanksgiving in Chicago with his family is one of the things I am grateful for.

Second, I am thankful to God for his continuous protection, love, and guidance in my life. His unconditional love gives me strength to live each day to its fullest. Despite my hardships and moments of joys, I know that I can always turn to him for whatever I need. I am thankful to him for blessing me with an amazing family, awesome friends, great teachers and mentors. The lessons they've taught me, the advice they've given me, the challenges they've provided me with and their unconditional support continue to shape the person I am.

Third, I am grateful to be a part of Amate House this year. Living in community is one my main sources of happiness. I enjoy spending time with my housemates and all the other Amate volunteers. Cooking and eating meals together with my housemates, and interacting with my Amate community are some of the things  I enjoy greatly. Living with my housemates is teaching me so much about myself and living with others. For instance, I am very picky when it comes to cleanliness, but everyone has a varying definition of what that is. I have learned to compromise and leave my judgments behind and accept everyone the way they are and where they are in life with their different lifestyles.  After much adjustment to my community, I can finally say I am so happy living with my family of 12 wonderful housemates with unique personalities. I appreciate each and every one of them and the gifts they bring to our community.

Fourth, I am grateful for my awesome job. I tutor ESL and math to 3-8th graders at St. Thomas of Canterbury School. The student body is diverse and the students are dedicated, tenacious and well-behaved. They are eager to learn as much, just as I am eager to learn from them! Being an immigrant from Africa, there is often something new I learn every day! Assisting them with their assignments, sharing stories and interacting with them transmits so much light. I see an abundance of joy in their faces and their jolly presence makes me so happy!

Thanksgiving was a great day to actively think of some of the people that have shaped my life. However, despite the Thanksgiving holiday celebration, we should be regularly grateful for who we are, where we are in life, and the people and things that God has blessed us with.