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The Little Things: The Power of Shared Experience

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Editor’s Note: In the conclusion of “The Little Things” series, communications associate Maria Beben reflects on the communal nature of the human person and the power behind this shared experience of humanity.

Recently, the phrase “Make me a channel of your peace” has been stuck in my head (Franciscan problems…) Without fully realizing it though, I’ve started to adopt this sentence as a kind of personal mission statement. 

But what does it mean to be a channel of peace?

The key word here is “channel.” A channel implies fluidity, not stagnation. The line does not read, “Make me a holding tank of your peace.” We are not called to harbor wisdom and experience inside us.

Since we (likely) aren’t going to witness the second coming, we have to get to know God in other ways. In my experience, it’s mostly through other people that we catch a glimpse into the infinite mystery of who God is.

We are made in God’s image and God is love. Therefore, it’s up to us to be living examples of love on earth. That’s a beautiful truth, but also an immense responsibility.

By our nature, we are relational beings. We crave interaction and connection with other people. I’ve been blessed with some incredible friendships in my life and it’s in the moments of raw and unfiltered expressions of emotion with these people that I also feel closest to God.

In the times when I fall apart with a friend, when I’m unable to see the goodness in any given situation, and when I’m unable to see the goodness in myself, these are often the moments I end up feeling the most affirmed afterwards. Without fail, these people remind me of who I am and uncover the beauty in a situation that sometimes I just can’t manage to see.

In these moments of validation and complete acceptance with another person, that’s when I feel God’s presence the most. If I can be that loved and supported by a human, how much more intense and powerful is God’s love and acceptance?

At our core, we are all instilled with the same mission to love, but we are called to live out this mission in different ways. We are all blessed with different gifts and talents that unify our mission in a beautiful and variegated tapestry of human diversity and experience. Through our vocations, our occupations, and our passions, we all bring something unique to the table. But again, these gifts and talents are meant to be shared, not hidden.

If writers and artists merely internalized their thoughts and views of the world and didn’t share them, we wouldn’t have books. We wouldn’t have poetry. We wouldn’t have music. We wouldn’t have art. And what if the saints had kept quiet about their visions and revelations of God?

To understand the influence of the human person is an empowering realization. And so, I leave you with this message: you have a voice. A unique voice. If you’re passionate about something, share it. Channel it. If you have a revelation about something, shout it from the rooftops. You never know who might be listening.

Reflection Question: How can you be more intentional about how you relate to other people?

*Featured image: adaptation of photo by Wikimedia author Delaina Haslam – creative commons

Originally from a small rural town in New Jersey, Maria graduated from the Catholic University of America with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a minor in theology and religious studies. After spending a semester abroad in Rome, Maria felt a call towards service and simple living. Franciscan spirituality resonates with her, and she looks at the year ahead of her with enthusiasm and gratitude. During her time in college, Maria fell in love with Washington, DC and is excited to have the opportunity to continue to explore the nation’s capital. The Nonprofit Servant Leadership Program gives her the opportunity to learn about a non-profit organization while serving in the community with other like-minded young adults.