As I reflect on my experience at Pathways, I am reminded of the Prayer of St. Francis:
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Giovanni Francesca di Bernardone, 1181-1226
This poetic prayer captures what I want to say so well. The students at Pathways embody the healing words in the first stanza, as opposed to the secular world we live in that sometimes fills us with the sickness of hopelessness. When I arrive at Pathways with a burden on my mind or hurt in my heart, the students’ welcome and sincerity in service to those around them remind me of the real priorities in life, as outlined in the second paragraph of St. Francis’ poem. As I’ve worked with Kelly, who can be shy and quiet, he still seeks to be understood, and I witness the teachers and other students working to include him and comprehend his sense of humor and mannerisms. While the academic subjects taught at Pathways and conveyed in mentoring sessions are important, they are essentially opportunities for connection. Kelly and the other students teach me to listen with more than my ears and to be present with my heart, lest I miss the most important lessons in life to comfort, seek to understand, love, give, and forgive. When I arrive for my weekly mentoring with Kelly, I not only get to hang out with him, but I am also loved on by the other young adults with disabilities who include me as one of their own. I would recommend volunteering with Pathways because you’re surrounded by models of God’s love. – Jessica, Pathways volunteer mentor