This semester has definitely had its ups and downs. From struggling with the concept and implementation of community to living in solidarity with the materially poor, I have been pushed in ways that I couldn’t imagine before coming here. One thing that I expected to get from this semester was a love and a passion for service. Surprisingly, I didn’t get that. I didn’t have any sort of revelatory experience while in the Dominican Republic that called me to be a better person or that sparked some internal aptitude for service. Rather, service is just as unappealing as it has ever been, just as time consuming, and I continue to find inner rationales for not continuing.
I was expecting some sort of mental or spiritual jump-start from this program and for a while, I was dismayed that I didn’t have one. After three months of being in this country, of doing service on a weekly basis, and living twice for ten days in the different campos, I was quite disheartened to find that my attitude towards service more or less remained the same. But the more I reflect and the more I dwell on this subject, the more I realize that my base attitude towards service isn’t likely to change any time soon. There will always be something that I would rather be doing, whether it’s something educational, like studying, or purely self-serving and lazy, like binge watching Game of Thrones on HBO. Now these things aren’t bad by any means, I’ve just come to realize that emotionally or physically demanding service will never be as attractive as curling up with a good book for hours.
Now this is where the difficult part comes in. My big realization of the semester is that service will never be easy, might not be enjoyable, and probably won’t be relaxing and comfortable, but is an obligation all the same. It seems like a fairly obvious concept, especially when looking at the life of Jesus. If, as Christians, we’re supposed to use his life as a role model, then we are going to be complete and utter failures in the eyes of a society that is focused on creature comforts and stability. Service isn’t something that we’re going to want to do; even Jesus wasn’t a big fan of his upcoming path when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane. My problem in the past is that I’ve been waiting for a revelatory moment that is never coming. I’ve been waiting to get the service bug and to suddenly have the desire to go out and save the world. But that’s not going to happen.
Service is always going to be a choice, and it’s not going to be an easy one. It’s going to be uncomfortable and I will always be able to rationalize not doing it. But this semester has shown me that I have an obligation to do it anyways. Service is not about me, it’s not about being comfortable, or getting attention from others, or getting hours signed off for this or that; it’s about realizing that the Other is just as important, just as worthwhile, and just as needing of love as myself. And who knows, maybe years down the road I will love service and I will have a passion for it that drives me to change the world. But right now I don’t have that, and I can’t wait around for it anymore. I need to stop waiting and start doing, and hope the rest falls into place.