Editors Note: The DC Service Corps class of 2021-2022 introduces themselves through personal reflection on what matters to them. Lauren Barry, who serves at the Father McKenna Center, discusses how love enriches her life. 

Love matters to me because it fills and enriches my life. Love strengthens my relationships, whether it be with myself, my loved ones, in education, or my community. Loving myself means taking proper care of and striving to improve myself. Loving myself helps me stay grounded and be present for those around me. I believe that in order to love others, you must first accept and love yourself. What strengthens my self-love is taking the time to decompress by taking long drives, journaling, and listening to music. Self-love to me also means taking the time to promote self-growth, learn from my past mistakes, and forgive myself.

Love strengthens my relationships with those who are closest to me, too. By showing the people in my life that I support and care about them, we form stronger bonds. Different people require different care and love. I show my love for my grandparents by visiting them when I’m home, calling them frequently, and sending them thoughtful gifts (like letters and/or pictures). I show love for my younger brother by lending him a helping hand when he needs it. I show love for my sister by spending quality time with her and doing activities that she enjoys, like discussing her day and watching funny videos together. I show love for my friends by giving them advice, sending them care packages, and supporting them. By showing love toward the people I care for, I am able to connect deeper with them. 

The love I have for learning and education enhances my life as well. I believe that I have much to learn, whether it be from my professors, mentors, loved ones, neighbors, or housemates. My love for learning helps me grow and makes my days brighter and fuller. I am grateful for the four years I spent at St. Bonaventure University, but now I am eager to learn beyond the four walls of the classroom. 

Lastly, the love that our community shares matters to me. Through FMS, I have been placed at the Father McKenna Center, where we serve and support men experiencing homelessness. Creating community at the Father McKenna Center is a way to show love to both those we are serving and those with whom I am serving. To put it concisely, “The true proficiency of the soul consists not in much thinking but in much loving.” -Bishop James A. Walsh, M.M.

Love matters to me because I think it connects and binds us all in a way that nothing else can.

Reflection Question: How can you show love to others and to yourself today?