Many CVVers come to Denver to serve and then find their home here. Dan Walsh, CVV 16, did the opposite. He wanted to serve where he was raised and then return to his alma mater, Creighton University, to serve the students there. During CVV, Dan worked at St Francis Center which allowed him to use his many gifts such as his gentle spirit and reflective heart. Now he has a beautiful family to be his companions on the journey of life.
Remembering My Companions
Theological Reflection was one of my favorite aspects of my time at CVV. It was a time to reflect upon and interpret my experiences at St. Francis Center through the lens of theological concepts and Vincentian charisms in the context of intentional community. And, I’m worried about forgetting what I learned through these experiences.
When I reflect back on CVV, I think of “being a companion on the journey.” Lately, I often wonder about whose journey I’m companioning? My journey these days has several fellow travelers – my wife and two daughters. It’s easy to think only of their well being, of ensuring that they get to where they need to go, whether that’s to childcare, to learning how to read, to finding a place of peace after a long and stressful day. This is important work, to be sure. However, have I forgotten how I’m also in relationship with the poor, the marginalized, and the excluded?
I’ve been reflecting recently on James 1, where he says that “Everyone should be quick it hear. If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, they are like a person who looks at their own face in a mirror. They see themselves, then go off and promptly forget what they looked like. But the one who sees themselves as a doer who acts in freedom is blessed.”
Am I still that same person at CVV who would glean food weekly for my community, who would spend hours listening to the guests at St. Francis Center, who would critically think about why homelessness persists in our urban communities? In short, have I forgotten about the people Jesus directly identities himself with in Matthew 25?
Lent is a time to remember – remember that I’m dust—that I’m a creature— and I’m wholly dependent upon God. It’s also through this stance that I remember that it’s not all about me: my wants, my understandings, my will. I’m instead invited to remember humility and, through that, to love God more deeply. I might remember that love is best expressed in actions rather than words (“to be a doer of the Word, rather than a hearer who forgets”).
This might sound Ignatian, but I think it also speaks to the Vincentian message. This Lent is an invitation to remember how I can be a companion on the journey, to remember how to encounter Christ in the poor, the imprisoned, the immigrant, the refugee. At the same time, I’m challenged to reflect on my privileges and barriers that insulate me from the gritty reality of the world.
At the end of each night, I pray with my older daughter following a simple pattern: “What were you thankful for? What were you sorry for (challenged by)? What (or who) do you want to pray for?” I’m often surprised by the things a three year old can notice throughout the day. My wife and I also follow this nightly prayer pattern, and it’s an invitation to reflect together on each day, discussing the challenges, joys, and questions we have encountered. Perhaps we’re informally practicing theological reflection – asking questions that help us remember the bigger picture.
And so, I’m reflecting on the following questions this Lent (and maybe you can, too): Who are my fellow companions on the journey? How am I seeking out those who are excluded? What things are getting in the way of me recognizing both my dependence upon God, as well as the call serve others?