(Prayer offered over the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Wednesday morning, 6 April 2016)
Let us pause and remember we are in the holy presence of God.
Hit the buzzer, walk in. Slide the glass and sign in. Stick the visitor sticker down. Turn right, walk down the hall. Drop off Michelle, then Max, then Lindsey. I knock twice on the door, quickly and loud. Isaac comes up to the door, smiles at me, and opens it. He hugs my leg as I walk in, and I’m greeted by a crowd of excited five year old shouts, “Miss Gabby! Miss Gabby!”
This is the process I went through every Wednesday for the past seven weeks at Harry Kizirian Elementary School. This Providence public school is consistently one of the poorest in the state, and the poverty doesn’t hide. It’s present in the outfits that the children wear, the lunchroom, and the structure of the building. I saw a level of poverty I had never experienced every time I was there, but I could never really focus on it in the moment. When I was in the school, all I could ever focus on were the smiling faces of the kids in my kindergarten class. I saw how excited they’d get when I’d walk in, and the excitement would remain during the entirety of the work time that I was present. Sometimes I’d work one-on-one with a child, but often I’d be leading a group. I learned that working with a lot of different learning styles at once is really hard, but it’s rewarding. It’s worth everything to see growth. It’s worth everything to see the joy on a kid’s face when they feel like they’ve done something right. It’s worth the high fives and the tight hugs.
My grasp on poverty is a lot more open now after traveling through this experience. I don’t know for certain if any of the children I encountered over these last seven weeks are in a home where government services are used to provide basic needs like food and health insurance, but if they are, it doesn’t change who they are as people. The poor are humans too, with faces and names. I think what I’ve learned most in this experience is that because the above is true, we are morally obligated to help those in poverty, simply because we are people. After facing the poor and walking beside them, I feel more compelled than ever to help. I can only hope that my classmates who are about to embark on their own Christian Service journeys feel the same love as I feel for those twenty four kids in Room Two.
Let Us Pray
Lord, we ask for love and guidance as we send a new set of students to their Christian Service sites. We ask everyone who’s been through this experience to never forget what they have learned. We also ask for everyone around us to embrace fully the presence of poverty. Teach us to surrender to You our excessive search for material comforts, and to discard whatever material goods we possess that do not serve You. Teach us to be poor in spirit, so we can learn to always rely on Your strength and power to make us instruments of peace.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us
Live Jesus in Our Hearts…Forever
Gabby Florio–Class of 2016