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Encouraged: A Collection of Moments

September 20, 2010

In the swiftness of a moment everything can change. For in just blips of time thoughts evolve, hearts heal, and troubled souls are graced by peace. Lives begin, lives end, and the witnesses of such moments are often transformed by the ripple of such grandiose moments. I’m sure there is a grand philosophic term to explain the times in which 30 seconds causes a 180 in life. I’ve experienced them. They are odd, exhilarating, sometimes debilitating–springing from deep grieve, or great accomplishment. No matter the source, the outcome is the same: life, as you know it, will never be the same.

Then there is, what I see anyway, as the transformational encouragement much more common to man. In which collective moments, seemingly meaningless, shift perspectives and alter attitudes–ultimately changing a being. Throughout the day, simple moments mend us, inspire us, and give us purpose. Yet we often miss these moments, for they are seemingly inconsequential–the flutter of a butterfly past your window, the sounds of a child’s giggle, or a passing quote from the roaring television. While often unnoticed, these moments have a way with us, they make up who a person is, and who one will become.

I think that last week I experienced a collection of such moments–or rather I, along with the rest of mankind, am in the midst of being transformed. (Brace yourself for an in depth reflection–I will not be offended if you stop at the pictures. They, although just from my blackberry–I’ve got to start carrying my real camera w/ me–they, will transform you).

Last week began with an honest, heart to heart blog. My week prior was…well…ick. There was nothing of great consequence to make it such. It was rather an encounter with my grimm humanity. Every since I was a child, I have released through writing. I have countless journals–the younger I was the more torn out pages there are. Look how much I’ve grown up–I’ve gone from tearing out the pages of confession for no one ever to be able to retrace, to posting them online for anyone to read (yikes, that’s a whole other post in and of itself). All that to say, in many ways I had no choice but to write last week, it was a matter of being able to move forward–and I do believe that the Lord is faithful to honor authenticity. For when I am truly authentic, there is a sense of a clean slate–not because of an act I completed, but by something outside myself. Grace.

Last week began with a deep sense of my need for grace, and the peace to walk forward in it. So that’s where I began. I woke up, I went to work, and I embraced the grace I had been given for that day. Monday, I had lunch with a co-worker in which I was deeply encouraged. Tuesday, our new Associates came. I was able to lead an orientation for them and I baked for my coworkers. I love the bond developed over a shared treat. Wednesday, I experienced a sunrise. Literally:

Thursday, we volunteered for NCoC’s Civic Innovators Forum and attended the latter half of the Forum. I had the opportunity to listen to a panel with Gregg Petersmeyer, John Bridgeland, and Shirley Segawa–representing the last three presidencies, spoke about volunteering and service. They provided the history and a perspective on the service sector that I apparently needed to hear. At one point, Gregg Petersmeyer, who was appoint the first director of the White House Office of National Service by President George H.W. Bush, noted that, Bush defined American success as serving one another. It was a passing moment, but a quote that gripped me. I didn’t even have paper to write it down with, or the thought to text it to myself, hence the paraphrase. But it, along with my simple Mon, Tues, Wed moments, began to slowly shift my perspective on where I am. Why wouldn’t I be in the service sector? I see the most opportunity for collaboration here, it is a place in which all people can find common ground, and it is who I am (or rather, the woman I desire to be). I desire to live a life of service, in imitation of Jesus. He came not to be served, but to serve. Petersmeyer also noted that people (especially young people) seek “meaning and adventure.” This is dead on with my experiences, and it just makes sense.Enjoy this view, the Capitol from the Newseum, where the Forum was held:

Moving forward, Friday was the National Conference on Citizenship, held at the Library of Congress. First of all, Library of Congress…new favorite place (yes, I do say that a lot). Its incredible though. While I did get a chance to wear both heels and pearls that day, it was so much more than that. (Check out www.ncoc.net for the video that’ll be up). I had the opportunity to support the staff as a volunteer. I had a small role, helping at registration. But I love that. I love helping to make something happen and I love the opportunity to make people feel welcome. The bit of the conference I was able to see was incredible. Aside from seeing former Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg speak (incredible women, can’t imagine my life without the work she has done), there was one panelist, Cheryl Dorsey of Echoing Green, in particular that said a few small words which encouraged, and thus transformed me. At one point she noted that, we must “marry passion with skill.” And that “success is not about being a founder.” Finally, its about “leveraging talent in an effective way.” This blog already has the potential to be a mini-novel, so I’ll try to be brief. But I am surrounded by passionate people, by many founders of non-profits, and great talent. I can’t help but compare myself to those around  me. My passion lacked in comparison, my talent quite dim, and no, I, at 22, was still not the founder of anything. I feel behind on life. But her words brought peace. I do have passion, I do have talent, and I may never be the founder of anything. That is ok. But I am passionate about people, about service, and about justice.So my week went on…

Saturday morning I visited Arlington Cemetery for the first time. I hadn’t really planned on doing it that day, but it happened. And I think, it was meant to be. It is moving. It permeates respect, honor, justice and injustice all at once. The sacrifice these men and women made for those they loved and never knew is….well…I honestly, do not possess the right words to articulate it. I was moved; I am changed.

I’m just not even going to say anything.
After the Cemetery I visited the H Street festival. Then went to a friend’s house for a party. On my way I walked alongside the Mall. Soaked in these moments:

When I first visited DC last November, the Supreme Court Building was one of the first buildings I saw. It impacted me in a way that I did not expect. It resonates justice. (surprising, I know…but none the less incredible). These moments continued to build upon those earlier in my week.

A final day: Sunday. I went for a long run, around the Tidal Basin.

Yep, I’ve been here for four months and am humbled to say that I had not been to the FDR or Jefferson Memorial. But that was the perfect day to go. I know I just said that the Library of Congress is my new favorite place, well, FDR Memorial, new favorite place outside. There were many quotes that struck me, but this one hit me hard:

On my way home from my run I stopped at 15th and Pennsylvania (I think..). It is where the Points of Light “The Extra Mile” in which the founders of the volunteer movement are commemorated. It is really cool and I hadn’t noticed it until Saturday morning’s run. So, dripping in sweat, I walked “The Extra Mile” stopping and reading about each of these great leaders. It is a must. Period. Everyone needs to do it. This one struck a chord with me, founder of Girl Scouts of America:

Thus, my week came full circle. I work on a floor owned by Points of Light. I heard from those who founded it that week. There are so many details last week, that were woven together to both encourage me and continue to transform me. A collection of moments that have brought me to this conclusion:

I am blessed. I am where I am supposed to be. I desire to serve. To be an imitator of God and live a life of love (Eph 5:1-2). To fight for rights. The right to life. To a healthy life. I have a passion to serve women–of all ages. And maybe I know my passion, maybe I know my talent…and maybe I fear what I know my heart beats for…

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

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