Towards the beginning of my service year, we had to replace the refrigerator in the Detroit house (aka Maude). We like to say Maude is a special lady. She’s an old house with interesting proportions, which means it is not easy to move things around, particularly the old fridge that was too big to fit through the doorways. We were stoked to get a new fridge, but the excitement diminished when the delivery guys (who were supposed to take the old fridge with them) left us to maneuver the old fridge out of its space. This turn of events did not make the Maude Squad very happy.
On the night of our first official meeting with one of our support staff, Sr. Rita, I came home from a very long workday to discover some maneuvering magic happening in the kitchen. Rita decided that our community activity would be to get the monster that was the old fridge out of the kitchen and onto the back porch. With a lot of teamwork and communication, plus a few screwdrivers, a hammer, and some scissors, we were able to move it outside onto the back porch. Afterward, we sat down for dinner and moved on with our evening, but upon further reflection, all of us realized moving the fridge was an action that embodied the spirit of Mercy in action and what our service year would look like.
We all have those big, strong people we turn to when there’s heavy lifting to be done. Unfortunately, none of us have made any bodybuilder friends in Detroit yet, so we had to resort to communicating with each other. When it was time to lift, we had to listen to someone counting down and move as a unit. When the fridge wouldn’t fit through the door, we had to listen to what someone thought we should remove. Maybe someone with a different perspective saw a new angle we could try. When someone’s idea got us a little closer to our goal of getting the fridge outside, we cheered all together. The whole ordeal was truly a process where we listened to one another, supported each other, and worked as one team. We faced a challenge together and we were able to reach our goal.
This 30-minute task represents what we strive to attain through the value of community. We should be able to share our ideas or our feelings because we trust that the other members of the community will listen and not shut us down or minimize our thoughts. Once we decide on a course of action, we should be able to function as one community rather than two or three individuals. We should support each other through the challenges we face in our personal lives, in our home, or in our placement sites. And when we achieve even the smallest success, as a community or as an individual, we will be able to cheer each other on and revel in the victory.
After a few weeks, the delivery guys finally came and removed the old fridge from the porch (that story deserves its own blog post). Even months later, when I joyfully look at the functioning fridge, I think about that night where we came together as a community to be Mercy in action for each other.
Kati Byrne: Detroit, Michigan