Friday, December 19, 2014

Waiting in Joyful Hope

The following is an Advent reflection written by Katie Dorpinghaus, one of this year's Little Village House Volunteers.

The theme of my reflection is waiting, and not just waiting, but waiting in joyful hope. If you've ever seen me in the 45 minutes before a community dinner, you’ll know how difficult a topic this was for me. My pre-dinner routine consists of about 4% waiting, and 96% snacking on everything in the pantry until we sit down for a meal.

But because waiting is such a difficult thing for me to do, I think that I especially could learn from this reflection. And, probably because waiting is such an unfamiliar topic for me, my mind immediately jumped to this story, which has very little to do with waiting.

Luke 10:38-42 says: As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me! “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I have always been confused by this story of Mary and Martha. Mary is praised for sitting down and not doing anything, while Martha is scolded for doing exactly what I would be doing in her situation—working her butt off to make her house look nice enough for the VIP guest who just rolled in.  But when I think of the why and I think of the how, I think I understand. As Martha and Mary were waiting for Jesus to come, Mary was thinking about how great it would be to see the person who was coming to visit. Martha, on the other hand, was definitely trying to remember how long it had been since she’d swept her backyard. There was so much work for her to do, that she barely spared a thought for her guest, and even when he arrived, she remained focused on the work that had to be done, when the reason for all her preparations was sitting right in front of her.

Waiting in joyful hope doesn't have to mean waiting without action—that’s not what Martha should have done. It probably means that we should be doing quite a bit. No matter what we’re doing though, waiting in joyful hope means that we’re acting for God and we’re acting because we depend on God.

Martha’s (and my) problem isn't what we’re doing. It’s how we’re doing it. I spend a lot of my time at work, at home, and interacting with others creating my own world. I’m so focused on what I need to do, and what I need to accomplish that I lose sight of why. I’m responsible because no one else will be. I’m kind because that person may be kind to me later. The world I create is one where I’m the sole source of good and the only one capable of solving problems. Somehow this never lasts for long, and when I can’t be good enough, fast enough, or smart enough, it is all my fault and the world is a worse place because of it. This is even harder for me at my site. I have a lot of responsibilities, and when I mess up, someone doesn't get the tutoring they need to pass their classes or the money they need to pay their rent. There are so many problems that I see, and when I fail, people are hurt and it is all my fault. I’m playing God, and I am terrible at it.

But that’s not how we are called to be. We are called to serve—not as God, but for God. Because the world has a lot of pain, suffering, and heartbreak, and we encounter it every day.

But the world also has beautiful, wonderful people who make every day a gift. I live with 7 of them and have met so many more here in Amate. Waiting in joyful hope means that we recognize the pain and suffering, but we choose to fight it and we choose to hope. Because God isn't some ancient and distant being. He isn’t coming only to judge us for the pain we've failed to ease. God is coming because we need him, and while I’m planning to work until he comes, I’m going to make sure that I’m waiting when he gets here.

Movement in our Rebirth

The following is an Advent reflection written by Carlavee Ervas, one of this year's Little Village House Volunteers.

Rebirth is when you feel anew.  When you feel like you have a chance to start over again or to do better. It doesn't just happen one time, there can be a rebirth in each season of our lives and it is a process. The best thing about rebirth is that you’re given a new life, a chance to live out this life and live it to the fullest if you let yourself.

I experienced my first rebirth in 8th grade. I went to a Life in the Spirit Seminar Retreat where I encountered God for the first time. God showed himself as Love to me.  I was so taken by God that I wanted to know him more. And I did. I attended youth group meetings, got to know God through prayer, worship, service, study, and the sacraments but my journey didn't end when I got to know God better. I had another rebirth coming up.

During college God was still love to me but God also took on the form of hope. I loved my college experience much more than my high school one, but college was a difficult season for me.  I had episodes of depression and anxiety where I felt hopeless, I couldn't concentrate, I felt lethargic but I couldn't fall asleep. I didn't do well in my classes and felt pathetic and ashamed. There were times when I felt so lifeless, I didn't see the reason for morning to come.  It only meant another day of living and there was no point in that.

But, God didn't think so and I was able to get through college. I graduated but I was very broken.  Over the summer of 2013 I took the time to take care of myself and let God mold me. I continued to go to church and youth group. I got part time jobs as a music therapist and as a music teacher. I worked on myself, I went to therapy, let myself treat myself, and trusted in God that He could make anything new. And He did.

I’m happy to say that I’m not that same person in college. The summer of 2013 – the summer of 2014 was a year of rebirth for me. And that rebirth led me to keep growing. Out of my desire to grow, God led me to Amate House. Although I had jobs related to my desired profession, I felt God calling me to serve in a different way. So I decided to do this year of service with the intention to continue my personal growth and deepen my relationship with God through community and service. Each day, I find myself seeking God in the everyday moments. At dinner with community and when we are just hanging out, through conversations with my co-workers about our elders and faith, in my elders’ smiles and when they express their sorrow, I find God saying to me “This is where you will find me and this is how you grow”.

During this time of Advent, I know everyone is going through a different spiritual walk but I pray that as we walk this journey, that we would allow God to mold us in whatever areas we feel we need molding in and that we would keep that openness and vulnerability so that we can grow for better and allow ourselves to transform into who we are.

Waiting in Quiet Watchfulness

The following is an Advent reflection written by Lydia Hawkins, one of this year's Little Village House Volunteers.

I have a confession to make. When I was a child, attending after-school day-care, the care-takers would get out the cots and start giving us the back rubs that signaled that it was “nap time.” I would curl up under the blanket and shut my eyes and breathe more deeply…but I never fell asleep; I only pretended. I never actually fell asleep because I was too excited for who was coming.

You see, my mom worked at the elementary school connected to the day-care and she would always come pick me in the middle of “nap time.” So while the other kids were dozing off into sweet slumber, I was attentively listening and hoping for the moment my mom would be there to take me home. My ears would perk up at every creak I heard. I would forget I was faking sleep and open my eyes at murmurs coming down the hall. And I would strain my ears for the sound of her jingling key ring and the familiar squeak in her sneaker.

I understood the idea of “joyful anticipation,” better as a child than I do now. I practiced “quiet watchfulness” better as a child than I do now. And as a child, I knew how to wait in quiet watchfulness, how to practice hope in anticipation, because I knew who I was waiting for.

These are the attitudes that the season of Advent aims to foster. Yet the power of this season can often be missed by a multitude of distractions that pull our attention away from “waiting quietly.” Our culture certainly doesn't encourage lifestyles of quiet awareness, especially during this loud, busy holiday season. And our generation certainly isn't practiced at “waiting” for much anymore with information and connection and consumer goods a mouse-click away.

I know all of these things distract me from practicing quiet watchfulness for Christ, not just in Advent but throughout my life. I constantly fail to create quiet spaces where I can grow in awareness of Christ in my life. And this foreboding idea of the return of Christ is really rather more frightening to me than exciting or hopeful.

But one of the biggest reasons I struggle with “quiet watchfulness” as an adult, is because I don’t who I’m waiting for anymore. When I was a child fake-napping in day-care, I knew what I was listening for and I knew who to expect when I heard my mother’s familiar noises. And I waited with such excitement because I knew my mother’s presence meant being saved from the boredom of day-care. I knew I was waiting quietly for a savior.

When I think about Christ as an adult, I don’t get excited about the idea of a baby born in a manger. I don’t think about Christ as my best friend and I don’t look for fuzzy, warm experiences that I can call Christ’s presence in my life. But when I think about Christ as a Savior, I think maybe I still do understand “waiting in quiet watchfulness.”

When I look around and see the consequences of systematic oppression, when I hear some of the powerful stories of my students, when I see the effects of hatred and bias and broken people and their broken love, I feel hopeless. When I strive to lead a life that fights for justice and realize just how little one person can do in the vast amount of work to be done, I feel overwhelmed. So when I think about the idea of Christ as a Savior from these things, I can get excited. When I think of Christ as a bringer of justice and peace in the world, I can understand the laments and history of the Jews who waited years for a Messiah to save them from oppression and I can understand their confusion when he seemed at first to just be a carpenter’s son riding on a donkey. When I think of the salvific power that will come from that Christ-child in the manger, I can get excited about Christmas and the idea of waiting hopefully for that power to return.

But I’m not just waiting quietly for Christ the Saviour, I’m watching for him with hope. And I see him when I see his Body at work.

Paul calls us to be Christ’s body alive and active in the world. I get filled with excitement when I see groups of people working for peace, when I see the world reacting to the recent incidences of national discrimination or the injustices occurring just across the border or across an ocean. I get filled with hope when I see glimpses of humility or love or restoration in relationships that overcome our sinful inclinations. My heart fills with anticipation, joyful anticipation, to continue to see what Christ’s Body will look like in our world.

So I wait quietly for the return of a Saviour. The Reedemer. The Light of the World. The Prince of Peace.

And I watch him work in the Body of volunteers who have taken a year to grow in justice and love. I watch him in the many speakers we have encountered this year who have incorporated that spark for justice into lifestyles. And everyday when I walk into Our Lady of Tepeyac, the site I teach at, I’m reminded to not just wait quietly but actively as the first thing I see are the words of Pope Paul VI hanging above the main door: “If you want peace, work for justice.”

I invite you this Advent, to spend some time reflecting on who you are waiting for with hope and anticipation. Because just the like the child pretending to sleep during nap time, I’m wide awake and watchful once I know who I’m looking for.

Receiving the Unexpected and the Unknown

The following is an Advent reflection written by Meaghan Sykes, one of this year's Little Village House Volunteers.

It’s been about four months since I made the trip from Philadelphia to Chicago to complete a year of service with Amate House. Upon telling family and friends of my plans for after graduation, I was bombarded with many questions. “Well, where are you living? What exactly are you going to be doing? Have you ever even been to Chicago?? What happens if you don’t like it???” Most of these questions I didn't immediately have answers for, but I wasn't too worried. I have always been the type of person to go with the flow and just figure things out as they happen. I figured I would be okay with having a few unknowns in my life because I could see the big picture of what I was imagining to happen after this year, a chance to make a difference in the lives of those I've served, in my community and in my own spiritual life.

However, I wasn't just experiencing some unknowns; I was immersing myself in them. I moved more than 700 miles away to a completely new city living with 7 people I've never met before. For the first time in my life I’ll be working full time and living away from my entire family. It didn't really hit me until the first week of work just how much remained unknown. Nerves hit me and I began to question what I was doing here. I felt under qualified and uncertain that anything that I was doing would even make a difference to these people.

As the marketing and development manager at West Suburban Senior Services, I had the chance to interview many of the seniors and ask them questions about what we were doing well and also what changes they would like to see. I was overwhelmed by the number of nice things they had to say about the staff and the programs that are available. Although I didn't think it was a big deal, they told me that small things like having coffee out every morning and getting to play bingo a few times a week made them look forward to coming out of the house and getting time to socialize. The amount of happiness it gives them to be able to read a newsletter with photos of events we've had or sit with me for a short computer lesson is so much more than I had ever expected. Several people told me that the agency felt like a second home to them. I have come to realize is that although I might not be making life altering changes in the lives of the seniors I work with, it’s usually the little things that can turn their day around.

I come from a pretty big family and have been used to sharing my home with many other people. As the oldest in a family of seven children, I thought living in this intentional community would be a breeze. I wanted to begin this community living experience with no expectations, but that didn't mean I didn't have questions. Would they like to have spontaneous dance parties? Will any of them like to talk and laugh as much (and as loudly) as I do? Does anyone like the same TV shows as me? Are they funny or insightful or curious? Although it isn't always easy, and there certainly are challenges that I wouldn't have expected (like the chore of cleaning the kitchen—and keeping it that way) I'm happy to say that I have found 7 women whom I have grown to love. We share many similar views, but also have intense disagreements about a million different topics. We challenge each other to grow and to learn, but at the end of the day, we affirm each other and fully believe in one another and that’s what keeps us going through this year.

I have found a connection to Little Village and the culture that encompasses the community in St. Agnes of Bohemia, a church just a few blocks away. I love that the congregation is mostly Hispanic, and bring that passion to Mass and in the smiles they share. On Sundays I look forward taking some time to share with God and reflect on the week that is coming up. This time of Advent, we are reminded that when the Holy Spirit came, Mary said yes; let it be done unto me according to your word. I strive to be more like Mary during this season, and welcome the unexpected by saying yes to the experiences that present themselves to me in my work, in my intentional community and in my spiritual life.

 I think the artist and author Brian Andreas summed it up by saying "Say yes. Whatever it is, say yes with your whole heart & simple as it sounds, that's all the excuse life needs to grab you by the hands & start to dance.” So take time this Advent season to say yes to what God has put in front of you, and take whatever life has to offer.

Welcoming the Stranger

The following is an Advent reflection written by Therese Diola, one of this year's Little Village House Volunteers.

I feel as though society gives the words “strange” and “stranger” a negative connotation. The word strange is defined as, “ unusual or surprising in a way that is unsettling, or hard to understand”, while some definitions of the word stranger include, “an outsider”, and “ a person who is not a member of the family, group or community.”  It is a common lesson told by parents to their children to not talk to strangers, and a wise lesson at that. It’s easy to fall into the comfort of routine, familiarity, commonalities and usual friends and family. However, if there’s one thing I've learned from this year it’s to make a whole-hearted attempt to change one’s view of a stranger into that of understanding as there is so much to be gained in the transition from stranger to friend. I have experienced this first hand with my roommates.. The strangers I was reluctant to live with at first have welcomed me into their lives as I have welcomed them into mine. From them I have learned and will continue learning an endless amount. They are helping to shape who I am and allowing me to view the world through their eyes.

Additionally, working with Trinity Volunteer Corps, I have been given the chance to grow relationships with who many would consider to be “others”. I have had the incredible opportunity to work along side adults with varying developmental disabilities and they've shown me what a force they are to be reckoned with as I've been a witness to the positive impact they are making on many lives.

Though they each have their own gifts, talents and wonderfully unique personalities, they are all similar in their eagerness to help, welcoming hearts and desire to build meaningful friendships. Before I began working with these individuals, I imagined how important my efforts would be in helping the Trinity Volunteers succeed and including them in society. Yet I've found that it is their warmth, their kindness and their acceptance of others that has shown me what true and pure hospitality is. They've allowed me, someone who they just met no more than 4 months ago, become a part of their lives and their friendship  has provided me with a deeper understanding of joy in life. When I think of all the Trinity Volunteers’ sincere and complete acceptance of everyone, I think of the many times in scripture where we read of Jesus’ love and compassion to everyone, including strangers that society deemed as undesirable and unworthy.

Ya know, it’s easy it is to become distracted and overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of life, making it easy to lose focus in our relationship with God, viewing Him as a Stranger….I've experienced this firsthand. Yet, the amazing thing during times when we feel like this, is the fact that God knows us even better than we know ourselves!

In Matthew 25:35, Jesus proclaims: "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in”. Even Jesus calls Himself a stranger! In verse 40 He proclaims, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Where do I see God? I see God in my friends, in my family, and in the strangers I encounter daily,  as we are all created in His image. I feel connected to him through the people I meet and the relationships I grow. I believe that receiving strangers by opening our ears, minds and hearts to others, allows us to fully and wholly give ourselves to God. By getting to know others, we get to know God Himself.

So let us welcome the stranger! Imagine all the people who missed the absolutely incredible and wonderful opportunity of being a part of Jesus’ birth because they had no more room for strangers…stinks to be them!!!

One of my favorite passages found in Hebrews 13:2 proclaims, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

What a wonderful message and realization this brings to mind and I can say for certain that I am surrounded by angels constantly, and these angels are all of you!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Transformed by our Rebirth

The following is an Advent reflection written by Cristina Medina, one of this year's Little Village House Volunteers.

“Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” Fr. Pedro Arrupe wasn't crazy when he recited this prayer. In fact, he knew exactly what he was talking about.

Rebirth happens in many forms. Sometimes you can see it coming, or from out of nowhere it appears. Rebirth can stem from a negative experience that you want to mend, or it can blossom out of a beautiful revelation needing care to fully bloom. The idea of rebirth in the advent season is to renew yourself, start fresh, be born again, in other words – we have the chance to be transformed by God’s love.

This summer was a period of rebirth for me, or so I thought. 4 months. 3 road trips, 4 suitcases. A few plane tickets, and absolutely 0 idea of what August would hold – this was a transition, a road to rebirth – a new life in Chicago. Here to there. Student to teacher. Learner to instructor. But still, learner… always learner, as I have come to figure out. The beautiful thing about teaching is that I see rebirth every day from my lively, opinionated, sometimes rude, yet passionate and wholehearted students.

I see rebirth when the quarter ends and grades start over, and a light gleams from a student because they have a clean slate and a new opportunity to succeed. I see rebirth when a student re-enters a room after stepping out to regain composure – and they do. Rebirth occurs class to class, assignment to assignment, the rebirth of friendships, and as a phonics teacher, I see the rebirth of confidence when a student learns that they can read more words than they could the day before.
Part of being students and teachers at perspectives charter schools is living out the 26 principles of a disciplined life. My favorite, and quite possibly the most important principle is being reflective. This is where our rebirth comes from. We expect students to reflect on that experience – figure out how their actions affect themselves and others. This principle promotes rebirth, rebirth of everyday students facing adversity, teenage drama, and constant sass, into confident, determined, and kind scholars.

Though each day I see my students convert to different people with different ambitions for the week, I myself have been transformed in my own ways. In the beginning, I was very taken aback by the disciplined structure implemented at our school. While this discipline is important, I quickly learned that giving consequences for untucked shirts was not the best way to build relationships with my students. Instead of greeting a student with a gum chewing infraction upon entering, I learned to ask them about how their soccer game went. Rather than giving a student consequences for having their head down during the lesson, I learned to check in to see if things at home were still rough. I took an interest in my students’ lives. I gave them kindness and they showed their love back. We talk. We talk about their grades in other classes, essay topics, issues involving race, what they wish to major in, what it’s like to be a volunteer, what movies are out, and how they would change the ending to stories we’re reading. Not only are we learning to be better readers, better learners, and better teachers, we are learning to communicate, to show love, to be compassionate, and to know our purpose, and to live our lives with that purpose in mind. I cannot attribute my tactics to my student’s rebirths, but I can say that I had to learn the hard way, to renew my outlook, in order for them to experience a transformation in my class. I can say that being a witness to their rebirths, their passions, and their gratitude is what ultimately caused my renewal. My rebirth. Arrupe was right, I fell in love with teaching in a quite absolute way, and it gets me out of bed every morning. So I invite you, during this Advent season to fall in love, and as Arrupe says, it will decide everything.

Cristina shared this reflection as part of her community's Las Posadas Advent program this December.

Advent Waiting

The following is an Advent Reflection written by Christina Cunha, one of this year's Little Village House Volunteers.

Waiting, as described in the dictionary is: the action of staying where one is and delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens.  When I think of the word waiting, I think of several images, such as times when I've waited at CTA for the next train.  I think of all the times I've waited for the ball to drop and counted down to midnight on New Year’s Eve.  I think of sitting at the dinner table as a child, waiting until my mom would finally say that dinner was ready.  In all of these incidences of waiting, I think of myself watching time pass by—and as the dictionary describes, staying where I am until something else happens.  Jesus however, asks that this Advent, we do not just sit by in a passive way and wait for His birth, but rather that we wait in action.

As German theologian Christoph Blumhardt states: “Here Jesus is speaking of his disciples and the preparation of His coming.  There must be people who stand by the door and listen for him and who open it quickly when he knocks.  Workers, not slackers are dressed for service…God has work that has to be done in work clothes, not in one’s Sunday best.  As long as God’s kingdom has to be fought for, it is more important to be dressed for work-ready action.”  As I think about waiting in this sense, as someone who is trying to work toward the kingdom, I must think of not just waiting, but waiting in action.  How am I actively waiting this Advent, and for the coming of God? This kind of active waiting seems like a contradiction at first, especially if I think of waiting as just killing time.  But God has challenged us to fight for the coming of the kingdom while we are at the same time, waiting for the coming.

I think that while volunteering with Amate this year, I have realized that I am part of this plan as I attempt to be in work-ready clothes rather than my Sunday best.  I think that one way that I have tried to be dressed ready for action is by being open to the challenges my job brings and being open to growth.  I teach 9th-12th graders at Perspectives Leadership Academy, which is a charter school that has a model of living a disciplined life.  Our school aims to develop future leaders in our society, prepare students effectively for college, and focus on 26 principles that fall under the categories of self-perception, relationships and productivity.  I am a proud staff member of my school and the Perspectives Charter network, which as a whole has doubled the graduation rate for neighborhood students in Auburn Gresham in just four years.  I teach a phonics intervention course to thirty eight students in five different classes every day. All of my students read below their grade level, and have decoding difficulties, where they have trouble breaking apart and sounding out words they have never seen before.  This intervention course is designed to improve their reading accuracy and fluency as well as instill a greater sense of confidence when reading.

When Christoph describes being in work clothes rather than our Sunday best, I think he is also speaking a lot to our comfort level.  For me, being in work clothes means being uncomfortable so that I am learning, being challenged, and growing.  This has certainly been the case while teaching at Perspectives, as I feel that although I am teaching high schoolers knowledge, I have learned and been opened to so many new ways of thinking which has challenged my faith in a very positive way.  I think of one of my students, who is in 12th grade and who has told me that she has to always guess at words when she is reading.  She is often confused, and tells me that it’s easier to usually just give up or have someone else read to her.  I think of another boy Damien, who has a stutter on his vowels when he reads aloud.  I know that throughout his schooling, reading aloud has always been a point of humiliation and shame.  These are just two of my thirty eight students who have trusted me to help them become better readers.  Several of my students feel embarrassed that their reading level is so low, so I have the challenge of encouraging and supporting them, through learning something that I took for granted as a child.

There are times when I feel incompetent as a teacher, wondering how so much faith can be put into my abilities.  I have so many moments where I feel uncomfortable, wondering if I am saying the right thing when they ask for advice or my opinion, or wondering if how I am teaching is effective.  I think that because of my doubts and uncertainties in this position, I am taking on the role of active watching, listening, and refining, especially as I’m trying to learn tools to be an effective teacher and role-model.

In a prayer dedicated to Archbishop Oscar Romero, Bishop Ken Untener beautifully captures how we can actively wait for God’s coming while working for the kingdom. He states:

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

I believe that as a teacher in Amate this year, I am part of the plan—part of the active waiting for the kingdom.  I may never see my students again after this year.  I may never see how my class has impacted them.  I may have said something this year that sticks with a student long beyond high school.  If a student is having a bad day, a smile may have a bigger impact than I would ever realize.  Even a simple “how are you”may show a student that I care about their well-being and success.  So as someone who is actively waiting, I should always be alert, just as the disciples were waiting by the door for Jesus to knock.  I don’t have all the answers, but I know that if I concentrate on my teaching abilities and use my gifts and talents that I have been given, I can let grace enter and trust God to do the rest.

Christina shared this reflection as part of her community's Las Posadas Advent program this December.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Good Vibes

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

Think about your average day. How many people do you walk past? How many people do you talk to? And how many people do you ignore? Take a second to think about that.

Both sets of lives, even with their own unique twists and turns, have brought you together for a brief moment. A brief moment of possibility to be the face of love to that person. Such a special intersection should not be disregarded or cast aside. Instead we must try to recognize those moments and then fulfill them until they over flow, because we cannot imagine how important a selfless act of love can be.

Now, I am not saying that every act of love must be this monumental, life altering occasion with confetti and balloons. It could be something as simple as holding the door open for someone with their hands full, or calling an old friend just to see how they are doing. The degree of the act does not matter, but what does is that you have willingly decided to step into someone’s life, even if it is for a brief moment, and then chosen to exhibit the face of love. I like to call those everyday acts of love, good vibes. And before you start to throw the word hippie around, let me explain.

All of us walk around putting dozens of actions into the world. And all those actions have a ripple effect that directly and indirectly influence the lives of those around us for better or worse. For example, earlier last week I gave a homeless gentleman $5 and maybe there was someone who saw me do that and then they too decided to give a good vibe to someone else. Now all of a sudden over the past week a chain reaction has occurred and suddenly millions of people are now part of a vast network of kindness and love that has grown out of one simple act I did in passing. That might be wishful thinking, and I doubt it ended up resulting like that, but wouldn't that be awesome if it did?

So go back to thinking about all those people you walk past, talk to, and ignore. All of those people represent an opportunity for you, an opportunity to embody love. That is such a tremendous gift and it occurs daily! So please take that gift and fulfill it. Be a smiling face to a stranger. Be a positive word of encouragement to a friend. Be an act of charity to those you would normally pass by. If all of us continue to put good vibes into the world day after day, then I cannot see why a network of millions of loving people helping each other out would not happen. When you put good vibes in, you get good vibes out.