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MercyWorks Reflection | Miracles Take Time: Narek Mkrtoumian
This year, I turned 26 years old. I left a comfortable job doing what I know to move to Mercy Home and do a job I knew nothing about.
My MercyWorks placement is in Career Resources where I attempt to teach 14-17-year-olds about financial literacy and job skills. If I am being honest, this is a job I still find myself struggling with. I left my home, my family, my friends, 75 degree winters, a salary, good benefits, and the radical comforts of life in Los Angeles to join a community of 13 strangers, in a new city where every day is the new “coldest day of my life,” and a place where nobody knew who I was. Yet I feel more at home here in five months and three days at the time of this writing, than 21 years in Los Angeles. Miracle.
Many days I find myself in bed at the end of the day feeling overwhelmed. I’m mostly overwhelmed by the burdens that the young men I work with every day have to carry.
Even in a position of privilege, it’s likely you can identify someone in your life that you feel like you’re constantly explaining yourself to. Now imagine that from the perspective of one of our kids. The trials and tribulations of puberty, trying to find a sense of self-identity, and dealing with the many -ism’s they must navigate. Ism’s that hold consequences as dangerous as getting killed because of the color of your skin, and that’s just one ism.
When working with our boys and girls or with one another in community, forgiveness and the ability to start with a blank slate every day is vital. Every day that I see my boys in the hallway as they come “home” from school and we shake hands and tell jokes, I’m engaged in a miracle. A miracle that takes some time to realize.
“I feel more at home here in five months and three days at the time of this writing, than 21 years in Los Angeles.”
This reflection was supposed to be about what living in community is like or what working with the youth at Mercy Home is about. Yet the only thing I can bring myself to focus on is the importance of the self. In living with community you will constantly find yourself experiencing the following emotions: challenged, annoyed, laughing, crying, encouraged, loved, the absence of love, intimacy, generosity, honesty, committing to not keeping score, keeping score, hope, freedom, constraint, play, acceptance, rejection, surprise, humility, delight, vulnerability. But what it all ultimately leads to is joy and the experience of gratitude, for me at least. A lot of these states apply to both aspects of the job at hand and living in community with one another. I consider both to be a miracle and a privilege.
Thich Nhat Hanh once said, “Around us, life bursts with miracles–a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. When we are tired and feel discouraged by life’s daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles, but they are always there.” I couldn’t agree with him more!