• Olivia Watson

Peace, Acceptance, & Hope

Updated: Mar 28

At a recent prayer gathering for volunteers at Monica's Kitchen, our friend, Olivia, offered this beautiful reflection on the grace that is found in being a Good Samaritan to our friends and neighbors.

At Monica’s Kitchen, our Peace Breakfasts, Peace Picnics, and Peace Dinners offer body, soul, and community nourishment. Throughout the year, usually on Saturday mornings or Wednesday evenings, our doors are opened to all community members. The basement of St. Monica’s comes alive with smiles, hugs, the wafting smell of bacon, sometimes burnt coffee, and, always, acceptance. What we offer on those wonderful Saturday mornings or weekday nights fully encompasses breaking bread and mimics what we do each Sunday at Mass when we share in a meal at the altar and offer peace to those around us. At Monica’s Kitchen we strive to create a place where the community, ourselves included, can let go, even if only temporarily, the battles of life - addiction, anxiety, stress, sickness, abuse, loneliness. In their place, we all find peace, acceptance, and hope.

It’s amazing to see God working with and challenging our natural gifts. While I’ve served in many different roles, I seem to always sneak back to the table where we host a craft or a game for children in the neighborhood (or those young at heart!). It’s there where I truly see the impact of the space we’ve created. In a matter of hours, a child can transform from timid and untrusting to an explosion of joy, creativity, and, like many children, energy!

In everything we do we recognize the individual value of every person that comes through the door. We say each other’s names, look each other in the eyes, embrace, and remember the struggles and joys we’ve shared. In doing so, we begin to trust one another with our true selves. And, over time, this trust initiates a change in those we serve and in ourselves. Whether it’s curiosity about spiritual life, renewed comfort with our police force, returning familiar faces after a COVID hiatus, or a helping hand offered at clean up...there are endless big and small ways this mission creates space and support for positive change.

What we offer to others we receive, as well! During our meals, we often have the opportunity to help share and lighten that burden of those around us. It seems counterintuitive, but in helping carry the load for others our burdens are lifted, too! By listening to someone else with an open heart or offering a quiet prayer or gentle word of encouragement, my own load is lightened. At Monica’s Kitchen I, too, can put down my armor, feel most myself, and find the courage and encouragement to be even better in living my own life!

Contact Deacon Paul to donate to Monica’s Kitchen or to volunteer!

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