For some wee ones, it’s a look in the mirror to see themselves looking back and giggling at the their reflection. For some toddlers, it’s the adventure of riding in a car seat for the first time ever and wondering why the other toddler nearby is shrieking at being strapped in. And for some young children it’s wearing the same Mickey Mouse hat for three days in a row as noted by a migrant father regarding his young son.
These are the tales of joy recounted by volunteers at Tucson’s Catholic Community Services Monastery Migrant shelter for asylum seekers. When I take in my donations, I need only walk a short distance before one young man or another, guests at the shelter, offer to help me with my load. In the kitchen, always awash with smiling volunteers cooking, baking, mixing and stirring, I drop off my sandwiches, apples and oranges, maybe hear a thank you on my way out the kitchen door.
It’s not about the thank you. It’s about feeding people; it’s about lending a helping hand in any way we can; it’s about making a difference, about making eye contact with vulnerable people, listening to their stories, touching, offering; it’s about honoring and respecting and looking for joy wherever we can find it. And in return, we volunteers connect to our thrive tribe, and once again we are able to go on, no matter what.
It takes a village. The cavalry is not coming to save us. Whatever we have been able to do that day, make a meal, help a teen find a shirt and a backpack, transport a family to the bus station to get them started on their road trip to family and hope, even smile and lay a hand on their shoulder—it all counts. It’s good for them and it’s good for us, and good for our soul. It’s the right thing to do. We are the “us” we’ve been waiting for.