“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.” (Winston S Churchill)
Sometimes in life you have an experience that stops you in your tracks. If you’re lucky, you get time to reflect on this experience and think about how your life is going, who you are and where you’re heading next. I had such an experience recently, when I volunteered to accompany five Lourdes Hill College students to Sydney to participate in the Good Samaritan Education Ministry Outreach program. I thought the program would be similar to a school retreat or camp with duties of supervising and assisting the students. I thought I was ready. I was not, however, prepared for an experience that would move me so emotionally and stir my core values.
On Sunday 28th June, the students and I travelled to St Scholastica’s Boarding College in Glebe, Sydney, to the place we would call home for the next five nights. There we gathered with approximately 50 students and teachers from eight other Good Samarian Schools around Australia. The purpose of this trip was to live simply, be of service and embrace the Benedictine values; to ‘Listen, Learn, Live’, as the booklet read.
Our stay began with a warm welcome from Mitchell Smith and Aleshea Houlahan and the hospitality of the St Scholastica’s staff and students. From the love and friendship we felt from the assisted and abled workers at Ozanam Industries to the sense of community and stewardship we gained from helping the staff and guests of the Loaves and Fishes Free Restaurant, the week truly reflected the Benedictine values. As I interacted with the volunteers, staff members and guests, I found myself walking softly, watching gently and acting graciously. I learnt about the different ways in which one could make a difference in the life of someone who is less fortunate. A smile, a helping hand, a genuine conversation, a friendship. I especially found this in my two days at Ozanam. I may have spent the day teaching a few of the assisted workers how to fold Vinnies bags, but they taught me so much more. To be happy for what I have and what I am able to do every day. To enjoy friends and colleagues. To be a good teacher. That to speak kind words and to be gentle is a reflection of a beautiful soul. To live in the now.
I had underestimated the power of reflection, learning and giving. Walking in the steps of Christ, being more like The Good Samaritan, listening to other people’s stories – all were enlightening. I have returned to Brisbane with a renewed and informed social conscience. This experience has awakened my sense of me, who I really am and how I want to contribute to the world of ministry.
I would like to thank Good Samaritan Education and Lourdes Hill College for giving me the opportunity to go on this journey of reflection and discovery.
Lina King (Teacher – Lourdes Hill College, Brisbane)