Sometimes when we experience something fortunate, or lucky, we say, “Well, it just fell into my lap!” Or maybe that’s just a West Virginia thing? Just in case, it basically means that something unexpected, and often good, happens for no reason in particular – or at least no reason that’s obvious at the time.
Today, something fell into my lap. I mean that quite literally. While waiting to hear a presentation at the Mississippi Development Authority’s office, I picked up a copy of Time magazine and placed it in my lap. I flipped to a random page containing select quotes from various leaders and celebrities, and one from newly elected Pope Francis immediately stood out to me:
“Authentic power is service.”
Now, I’m the type of person (perhaps to my detriment) that searches for the meaning of things. While this trip to Biloxi and the Mississippi Center for Justice has been a remarkable experience, I hadn’t yet discovered its “meaning.” For some reason, though, Francis’ words stuck with me for the rest of the day.
As soon as I got back to our hotel, I googled Francis’ quote. For those of you that don’t know, Pope Francis was recently elected after Pope Benedict stepped down – the first Pope to do so in 600 years. Pope Francis’ reputation for humility and a devotion to the poor and underserved was evidenced in his installation address on March 19th of this year. It was from that address that the aforementioned quote came.
I read the address and, just like the quote in Time, it moved me. In essence, he said that we are all “protectors” – of each other, the environment, and “the poorest, the weakest, the least important.” He believes that we execute this “power” through faithful service to others stating, “Only those who serve with love are able to protect!”
For me, Francis’ quote (and entire address – read it!) sums up the meaning of being here in Biloxi and serving those affected by Hurricane Katrina. During the course of this past week, I’ve had the privilege of assisting MCJ clients in their efforts to have their homes restored to pre-Katrina condition. Though the storm struck Biloxi nearly 8 years ago, these clients – “the poorest, the weakest” – are just now in a position (through the efforts of the MCJ and the MDA) to receive the repairs for which they’ve so patiently waited.
Both the work we’ve done this week and Pope Francis’ message have been conspicuous reminders that “serving the underserved” isn’t just a mission pillar at our school, or some graduation requirement; rather, it’s our opportunity to empower others by serving them. I think that in the midst of trying to attain this grade or that internship or some award, we might (every now and then) forget that our “authentic power” comes from helping those less fortunate attain their goals and dreams.
That’s what this trip meant to me. And it just fell into my lap.
- Lindsey (Hurricane, WV), 3L