After high school and before college, I volunteered for an organization called Community Service Volunteers in London, England. For six months I lived with four developmentally delayed young men and assisted them with things like grocery shopping and preparing meals, and accompanied them on social outings. It was a period of immense personal growth on many fronts, and I will always remember those men and my time in England fondly. Years later, immersed in the busyness of everyday life, I had forgotten how important and empowering it is to serve others. This concept was recently brought back to the forefront by someone I wouldn’t normally cross paths with – a Roman Catholic nun.
Last week I volunteered at Sojourner Place in Seattle, a transitional home for women who’ve left bad situations and are beginning to rebuild their lives. It was a humbling experience assisting other volunteers with the prep, serving, and clean up of a meal for the eleven women that live there. Even more cause for personal reflection was the conversation we had with the house leader, a nun by the name of K.C. Young.
K.C. didn’t look like I expected her to – no habit, no rosary. If you met her on the street or at a social gathering, you’d encounter a nicely dressed, well-spoken woman who emanates personal strength and quiet calm. K.C. has been a nun since early adulthood and has spent the last 45 years serving those less fortunate in every corner of the world.
When we arrived she gave us a tour before inviting questions about herself and/or Sojourner Place. When asked how the Roman Catholic Church views service, she replied by explaining the Church’s “theology of service.” She said that God favors the poor and destitute, and that the more fortunate among us are obligated to care for those who have trouble caring for themselves. She went on to say that this philosophy extends beyond people to include the care and preservation of all Creation. Seeing this woman’s strength, compassion and dedication, in addition to the similarities between the “theology of service” she described and the Wiccan Rede, inspired deep respect and admiration.
As many who’ll read this already know, those who walk the Overgrown Path strive to live by the Wiccan Rede, which invites us to do as we choose provided none are harmed by our choices (including ourselves). In Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, Scott Cunningham explains that “This is more than survival. It also ensures that you’ll be in good condition to take on the tasks of preserving and bettering our world.”
I’m grateful for the reminder that the “tasks of preserving and bettering our world” are shared among many who walk various religious and spiritual paths. This has given me both a new perspective on people like K.C. and her religion, as well as a lot of hope for the future.