In the words of Cornel West, I went through schooling, but schooling also went through me. And, from what I can tell, also made a mess of things. I came into this year with the intention of post-graduate searching— searching for creativity, searching for purpose, searching for the Rodell that exists outside of educational institutions.
My search for creativity became a search for God— in fact, maybe all searches lead to God in one way or another. And God always seems to ask that I allow myself to be bigger, to search with a wider scope, to ask questions with weight I can barely manage.
Recently, I started drinking coffee in the morning again. I wish I could give you some cool explanation for why I stopped, like I was testing my body’s ability to function without caffeine, or maybe taking part in some trendy new cleanse, but I can’t. The truth is, I stopped drinking coffee because, up until a few days ago, I didn’t know how to work the coffee pot in the house, and was too embarrassed to ask one of my housemates to explain it. Silly? Yes. Irrational? Maybe. Coming into this year, I believed I was prepared for the unfamiliarity of everything. I anticipated challenges like figuring out the bus routes, learning to live with 6 people I had never met, and all of the other things you would expect when moving to a totally new place. What I didn’t expect was for a coffee pot to be the first enemy I would make in my new home. There is something about being in an unfamiliar setting that can make even the most basic of tasks feel like a challenge.
As it turns out, there are plenty of new challenges waiting for me, both inside of the house and out. Each and every day I encounter people and places that are still unfamiliar to me. The difference between these encounters and my coffee pot story, however, is that there is no real problem to be solved. Sure, it would be nice to one day just decide that I am comfortable and know everyone and everything that there is to know in my new home, but that’s not really the case. Instead, I get to treat every day as an opportunity to continue getting to know my community. I won’t lie, at times this can be hard. Some days I want nothing more than to run back home and hide in the comforting familiarity of my childhood bed. But as the days pass and I look back on everything that I’ve done in three short months, I am able to consider how far I have already come. Every time that I learn something new about one of my housemates, discover a new favorite place (there have been many new “favorites” so far), or recognize a face at one of my service sites, I am reminded that this is where I am at right now. For one year, this is my home, my community, and my life. Of course, there is plenty more work to be done- more relationships to develop, more places to see, and more transit lines to memorize- but I have time.
Voices of Service
These are reflections from corps members and alumni of Jubilee Year and the Episcopal Urban Intern Program. They cover topics ranging from the sun, fun and friends in in Los Angeles to the uncensored experiences of serving vulnerable populations in our beautiful city. These are Voices of Service. For more, go through our archives below