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Scripture, Alive

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Editor’s note: Through the lens of scripture, DCSC volunteer, Emily Dold, recalls her experiences of God’s providence and peace at the Father McKenna Center.

Soapy streaks marked the plastic folding table where I had successfully captured the bits of food, now between the textured ridges of the towel. The towel was certainly well-designed for the lingering crumbs; however, larger spilled bits from Session 1’s hot breakfast awaited. And so I wiped egg and biscuit onto the brick “street” on which the McKenna Center’s day program takes place. (Well, during the pandemic, that is. Normally the program’s sessions are indoors.) I certainly had no time to prioritize every crumb, but who could? Still, it bothered me that I let gravity take the food to the ground. My mind envisioned the street turning into a scrambled egg road. 

Lo and behold, the birds appeared. 

Little, hoppy birds. 

There they were, munching on all the leftovers. Of course, I laughed to myself, even the birds are provided for. 

Madeline, one of my 15 Casa community members, had recently called us to reflect on this in Matthew 6:25-34. Here are verses 26 and 27:

Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?

Surely, the appearance of my feathered friends was God reminding me that while my concerns are real, there is no need to dwell in worry. God will provide you with what you need — peace.

But while it’s fairly easy to get over a few crumbs, there were and are bigger things to focus on. Namely, my work with the McKenna Center’s mail program. It serves about 100 men, allowing them to use the McKenna Center as their mailing address. I currently am the go-to person to sort and deliver the mail. My ability to carry out this work directly affects the progress of men in the Center’s programming. In fact, obtaining a social security card, ID, and health insurance are important steps for many of the men.

I was aware of this, especially because I overlooked one of these pieces of mail that a man was waiting on. 

When I discovered the wanted piece of mail, I wished that I could contact the man and let him know that it was there! I had made a mistake! Come back! But, all I could do was wait. And so, after ruminating on how I had affected the man’s schedule, the birds appeared. Though I still wished I had gone without the blunder, God provided me with the peace that I was doing my best and that everything would be alright.

By the day the man finally came back to retrieve what was due to him, I was ready to calmly admit my fault without excuses or trying to put myself in a good light. I stated it as it was: the mail had been at the Center, but I overlooked it. And guess what? He smiled. I was surprised, yet overcome with even more peace-of-mind. His smile washed away my bits of worries to the ground. 

God will provide.

I did not ask the man to what extent he was affected by my oversight. I simply accepted in gratitude his smile as a reminder to not get caught up in my anxieties. Rather, I can give them up to God. Not everyone will react with smiles in the face of obstacles, nor should anyone be expected to. But, I can work on how I respond to my own mistakes and stress. When someone speaks with negativity, or when I feel overwhelmed by the day, I remind myself to be like the man with the smile. As a result, I can see myself slowly growing in peace with God. The man better inspired me to do all things in love (and with as much understanding as possible).

More and more, I am finding the life of scripture around me. I am grateful for my Casa community and outdoor masses at St. Camillus to continue to inspire me with proclaiming the efficacious Word.

Emily graduated from William & Mary in December 2019 with a major in Psychology. Following graduation, she continued work at William & Mary, which included her research assistant position with the Healthy Beginnings Project, a developmental psychology lab. Interested in pursuing a career social work, Emily hopes, as a member of DC Service Corps, to continue to strengthen her capacities to support people where they are and advocate for social change. She is grateful for her position at the Father McKenna Center and the opportunity to live in a faith community; service and faith have been ongoing educators in her life. With her free time, Emily enjoys running, playing pick-up basketball, and making and sending cards to family and friends.