Why are you here?
This is a question you’ll hear more than once if you sign up for a tour in Americorps, starting with your application interview before you even get in. And it’s one I’ve had trouble articulating for this particular tour. I mean, anyone who knows me knows I’m not a kid person. And yet, I’ve chosen to work with kids for the year. And while I’m all for stretching yourself and personal growth challenges and all, none of that ever really did more than provide a description of what was going to happen, not why I did it in the first place.
Then today I was reading Me to We (a book I highly recommend, btw), when I came across one story in which the same thing was asked of another woman who had devoted her life to service. Her answer? Because it’s the right thing to do. No more, no less. Nothing fancy or inspirational or woo-woo, no blathering on about purpose, passion or personal gifts. Just simply, it’s the right thing to do.
Of course, I firmly believe in purpose, passion and gifts. And I know from inspiration – I’ve been there more times than I can count. But when I read her response, I felt a resonance with it and recognized that in trying to come up with something deeper, more meaningful for an answer, I had overlooked the obvious. I do it, as she does, because it’s the right thing to do.
Why serve in the first place? Because it’s the right thing to do. No more. No less. Why kids? Because that’s where the need was. No sudden burning desire to make up for lost time with the wee ones (no – God no). No higher purpose, no divine calling. But really, need there be? Isn’t it enough to simply be called to do what needs to be done, because it needs to be done, where the need presents itself?
I have nothing but admiration for those to whom working with kids is a calling. It’s truly God’s work. And for those who have been inspired, called, divinely revealed or otherwise assured that working with kids is indeed going to be their life’s passion and purpose, well by God, more power to you.
But that’s not me. And I’m okay with that. I have my own passions, purpose and gifts and another reason for taking this position was to have a year “off” from dealing with them so they’d settle down where I could get a clear view of them so I could decide where I wanted to go with them. And that’s working out for me, too. The more time and space I get away from my passions, the clearer they get and the more defined they are in my mind. And in the meantime, I’m content to simply be doing the work that needs doing. It feels like the right thing to do right now.