A Place to Love and Be Loved

At our recent end-of-semester party, we were thrilled when Alex, a former Lutheran Volunteer Corps staff member, came back to visit!

During the open mic portion of the evening, he had these wise words to share:

“I’m really happy to be here to celebrate with you all this evening. Though, actually, happy is maybe not a strong enough word. Really what I’m feeling is profound gratitude towards everyone in this room for including me in this extraordinary community, and tonight, in particular, I’m thankful for a reason to celebrate.

We’re here together to celebrate a semester’s worth of progress. A semester’s worth of learned spellings and new vocabulary. Of math tests taken, citizenship questions answered, and e-mails sent. And we’re here to celebrate other milestones, as well. A semester’s worth of new citizens. A semester’s worth of babies and grandchildren. Of weddings. Of new friends and better jobs. So let me tell you all I’m so proud of everything you’ve accomplished in the past three months.

I want to say thank you for this opportunity because celebration is so vital to the health of any community. You should know that this community is one that a lot of us depend on in innumerable ways, and we need it to continue to be a source of strength and hope. We’re on the cusp of times that we could say are at best uncertain. Many in this room (students, staff, and teachers) might feel, for a variety of reasons, a little bit more alone. A little bit more in need of a healthy and vibrant community to call home.

I want to leave you with this piece of advice: loneliness is a burden you have to share with others until there is nothing left to share. The ELC has been for me a place to love and be loved. A community that has taken on that burden when I’ve needed it, and it’ll do the same for you. Just don’t forget that your friends, your teachers, and your students will be here if you need their support; and on nights like tonight, we’ll be here to celebrate together.”