The following is a reflection by an Asheville Youth Mission participant, Cate O’Malley, who came to AYM this summer with her group from Sugar Creek Presbyterian Church in Kettering, Ohio. She shared this with her congregation after returning from Asheville.
So, I’d like to start out with the question “What are you hungry for?” And I don’t mean what do you want for lunch after church today, but what are you HUNGRY for? Like you’ve heard already, one of the work sites we went to was the Lord’s Acre where their motto is “Everybody is hungry for something and everybody has something to give”. Some of us are hungry for new adventures and experiences. Some of us are hungry for assurance and affirmation from others. Some of us are hungry to get out there and serve.
This question was posed during our group reflection time after our first work day, but I didn’t answer because I didn’t know, what AM I hungry for? I had lots of different answers and ideas I thought I could say, but none of them seemed like they were REALLY it. As the week continued, the question kind of went to the back of my mind and I didn’t think about it again too much.
As the week progressed, we learned more about the theme “Spaces”. We learned how people have a 1st space, 2nd space and 3rd space. A person’s first space is like their home and the environment where they live. A person’s second space is their school or their job. Lots of people we met and served during the week didn’t have a first or a second space because they were currently experiencing homelessness and were out of a job. That left them with only their 3rd space, the space where they could feel comfortable and at ease in a life otherwise filled with chaos. For us, our 3rd space might be a bookstore, a café, or a certain coffee shop. But in a lot of cases, these people that we met would be unwelcome at our 3rd spaces. They had their own 3rd spaces on Haywood Street and in 12 Baskets Café. These particular spaces built a community within them by giving out food and welcoming anyone and everyone who came. See how open and welcome people were to share their 3rd spaces with us when that openness was not always reciprocated to them made me kind of wonder, “How is it that I can be so judgmental and not very welcoming sometimes when these people experiencing homelessness, unemployment, and many other social injustices can be so welcoming, and open to share their special spaces with us?” Jesus tells us all the time in Scripture to love one another and welcome each other like in John 13:34 when he says, ‘Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ I think working at ll the different sites we did allowed me to try and put that Bible verse into action.
At the end of our week, I was thinking about all that we had done and all that I had learned when the question “What are you hungry for?” popped back into my head again. After thinking about it a little more, I finally knew what I was hungry for! I’m hungry to create more space! I want to create more space in my busy life where I can slow down and remember how good God is and how thankful I am for all that I’ve been blessed with, because I often forget that. I am hungry to create more space for god to use me and work through me by praying more and reading my Bible more. And finally, seeing how welcomed we were at these peoples’ 3rd spaces made me hungry to create more space in my heart to love everyone and treat everyone with humanity.
I don’t know how much passing out bags of fruit or making friendship bracelets or trying not to fall out of canoes while cleaning up a river has really impacted someone else’s life, but I know it impacted mine. I know more about myself, the passions that God has put on my heart, and the ways in which I can grow my faith. I’m so thankful that I was able to go on this mission immersion experience and I’m already excited for what next year’s will hold.
So, I said that I’m hungry to create more space in my life for God and in my heart, but now I will ask the question one more time…What are you hungry for? To stay on this analogy, once you find what you’re hungry for, whether it’s a desire to be more patient and kind or a hunger to serve more, don’t just stay hungry. Fill yourself up and satisfy your hunger so that you can then go out and help feed others who are hungry for the same thing.