Magic Found in Service
As a child, Advent was one of my favorite liturgical seasons. After all, none of the other seasons have chocolate calendars! Through the years, however, I was disappointed to notice that I couldn’t find the same joy in Advent. The weeks before Christmas that had once seemed so long were now crammed full of finals, work obligations, and gift purchases. So this year, when I heard about the “holiday chaos” that I would have to experience at my work site, St. Anne’s Place, I was less than thrilled. I quickly learned, to my dismay, tha “holiday chaos” starts in early October. After making over 100 phone calls, organization storage closets to make room for donations, and facilitating volunteer group after volunteer group, I was ready to be done with Christmas… and it was only November!
When my supervisor asked me if I would be willing to work a 12-hour day to help facilitate their annual Santa Night, I hesitantly agreed. However, what I experienced that night I can best describe as magic. In a flurry of Christmas chaos, the families at the shelter ran from one room to the next, completing Christmas crafts, taking pictures with Santa, shopping for one another at our “free store,” and wrapping the gifts. I helped the smaller children wrap their presents for their moms as they proudly signed their names and placed bows on top. The wonder and joy exploding from each other the children quickly filled my heart.
This joy that I witness, I realized, likely resembles the same joy that filled the hearts of the shepherds and the Magi as they first saw the face of Baby Jesus. The joy that lights our souls aflame and melts away all other cares. The joy that, truly, only Christ can bring.
We have long since packed away our Christmas decorations, but I have not packed away this joy. Like the shepherds and the Magi, I too am filled with wonder and joy when I see the face of Christ in my residents, my housemates, my coworkers, and all I encounter. May we all live in God’s Christmas gift of joy all throughout the year!
~Katie Galuska, St. Joseph Worker
Katie is serving at Haven Housing for her St. Joseph Worker year and originally comes from Grays Lake, Illinois.