I have a confession to make. When I first learned that ASC volunteers at Arrupe Jesuit were assigned the glamorous role of “Nightwatchman” on the junior’s Kairos retreat, I was pretty disappointed that I could not participate in the retreat with the students. I questioned the necessity of my job during those 3 days (or nights, however you want to look at it), and I was frustrated at being asked to sacrifice my sleep – something that I hold dear. Apparently I haven’t mastered the Ignatian principle of detachment yet, but that’s a topic for another time… So, as I sit in the quiet hallway of Sacred Heart Retreat Center at approximately 2:37 AM, I think I’m beginning to understand the greater meaning of my purpose on this retreat and at Arrupe. Perhaps this is the result of my sleep-deprived and overly sensitive mental state, or the 2 cups of coffee I downed at midnight, but I like to think I have really hit on something here.
I did not realize until a senior leader explained to me that my presence in the halls at night helps the juniors feel safer and allows them to get a better night’s sleep because they know someone is right outside if they’re in distress. You see, for several Arrupe students, the Kairos retreat is their first experience away from home for a substantial amount of time. Although they can certainly possess feisty attitudes in class, they are just kids, after all. They miss their parents, they long for the comfort of their own beds, perhaps they wish they had brought their special pillow to hug because it brings them a sense of peace during the dark, lonely night. Whatever the reason for their anxiety, it is real and it matters to these kids. So despite my ambivalence toward my role this week, I need to remember that I actually do make a difference.
And perhaps I can take this attitude into my final 2 months at school: in the classroom, the lunch line, and on the work-study bus. On those days when I feel that my presence does not make a difference, I need to take a breath, remember how I can make these kids smile, and own my worth.
This is good. This is all very good.