I had fifteen minutes before my meeting started. A guest was going to be telling us about a project he had initiated. I wanted to get a look at it beforehand, so I arrived early - for once - and headed to the woods behind the church with my camera.
...At least, there used to be woods there, so thick with Juniper trees and underbrush you couldn't step foot beyond the children's playscape. But that evening last week I found a cedar-chip path lined with rocks winding through enough trees to provide shade and cast shadows as the sun drops.
This man had envisioned an outdoor Stations of the Cross and initially wanted to do all the work himself. When he found himself overwhelmed, other parishioners stepped forward to help with the clearing of trees and create the little creek to divert rainwater.
Children in the parish had helped line the paths with rocks.
Others helped build this log fence.
And another man is stripping cedar logs and building crosses for each station.
It's not finished yet, but already it's such a peaceful, reflective place to walk. What a gift this man has given to our parish and community!
But that's not all...
Along with his wife, he is starting a Family Ministry for our church, taking a survey to see what the needs are and finding speakers to come once a quarter on the different topics, such as divorce, loss of a child or spouse, problems with teenagers...leaving enough time in between speakers for the groups to continue to meet on their own and develop a support system.
At our last meeting another couple spoke about their ministry...serving gourmet breakfast treats in between Masses. I'm talking Quiche Lorraine, folks, not glazed donuts or stale coffee cake! Our small activity center now overflows with people enjoying the treats and getting to know one another better. They call it "The Garden of Eatin'". Cute, huh?
I snapped this photo with my phone one Sunday. I think it explains why they go to all of this trouble every week...
Another woman in our parish, a member of my committee, heard about a Prayer Shawl ministry, so she recruited a bunch of knitters and in just a few weeks they already have over twenty shawls to pass out to those who are sick, grieving, or lonely. A warm hug and prayer they can hold. So thoughtful!
There was a period in my life when I had a meeting of some kind almost every night. Take three kids, multiply by at least three organizations/activities they're involved in from the time they start school until they graduate from high school, add several small town community and church organizations and board meetings, and you get the picture. I was addicted to volunteering.
As my kids grew and flew the nest, I left behind one volunteer position after another until now all I have is this one committee where I get to hear about these people and their ministries.
They inspire me to think bigger and be more giving. I feel so blessed just to know them.
Even though I realize my plate is too full right now trying to pay for all those years I only volunteered my time to consider biting off a large project, I'm keeping my heart open for other ways I can give back, even if it's in little bits and pieces.
Unselfish and noble actions are the most radiant pages in the biography of souls.
What about you? Do you volunteer your time and talents anywhere in particular?