What does it mean to Reimagine the Magis? All December 2020, during a year of radical reimagining, we explore this most Jesuit charge, in order to be more, become more, and realize a more inclusive, equitable, and just Northwest.
Greetings to you on this blessed season.
During these last months of social distancing, as a Jesuit-in-Formation of the Jesuits West Province, I have lived with eighty-five retired Jesuits in Los Gatos, CA. I have heard stories from Brother Fred Mercy of the founding of “the Corps,” as he affectionately calls it. He and the other men who worked alongside our Jesuit Volunteers over the years offer beautiful accounts of how they witnessed JVs give of themselves and become transformed into the process.
Living with these spectacular men has called forth a reimagining of what it means to be present to people – people whose experiences of JVC Northwest, of Jesuit life, and of American culture evoke a coming-of-age different than my own, and much different than today’s volunteers. This year, JVC Northwest welcomed 103 Jesuit Volunteers and 98 Jesuit Volunteer EnCorps members. But over 64 years of societal shifts, our mission has always known: when we listen to each other, when we take time to be present, to share stories over a long meal or a walk outside, we draw out of one another those stories. In that mutual exchange, in that very act of being present to one another, listening becomes an act of love.
This experience of being dependent on one another reminds me of what it is like to be a Jesuit Volunteer, one dependent on one another for dinner each night, for emotional support when a day was difficult at service, and for those moments of depth when one tells another a sacred truth about oneself, and the other receives that truth as sacred. In this way, community reimagines the magis by not doing more but simply being more for one another.
A former student of mine at Seattle University and an additional year JV, Claire Lucas (’19-21 Ashland, MT), is being more for Northern Cheyenne elders in her second year of service at the Heritage Living Center. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have caused much stress on residents, impacting even their physical health. But Claire, too, is listening as an act of love as elders tell “more stories about their childhood, their time serving in the U.S. military, the joys and sorrows of raising their children and grandchildren.”
It is my hope we all become more for one another and in doing so, become transformed into people more generous, more grateful, and more present. We ask you to give a gift to JVC Northwest in order to Reimagine the Magis this Christmas and to show our volunteers your value their service with elders, with children, and in all the ways they show up as “people with and for others.”
Lucas Sharma, S.J. (’09-10 Washington, DC, ’19-21 JVC Northwest Board member)