This is the quintessential examen prompt, the foundation question for the spiritual practices I get to share with every BVS volunteer who comes through an orientation. It's also kind of the accidental basis of my other, daily discipline blog. You'd think, given all that, I'd have an easy time with this first question. But, honestly, there are too many moments of gratitude during a year to choose just one.
So, then, a representative moment: I finished up four years of working with and for Brethren Volunteer Service this fall, and while I'm still connected in about a dozen official and unofficial ways, BVS is no longer my employer or my main community. So when the staff took me out for a celebratory going-away dinner in September, complete with Happy Elephant curry, inappropriate laughter, a guest appearance from Beth(any) who lives in far-away Portland, and the very perfect gift of a Kindle, it was both bitter and very, very sweet.
In the last four years, I've gotten to hang out with people leaving their lives in order to change the world. I prayed with athiests, ate with vegans, laughed with Germans. I listened to life stories, signed faith journeys, dropped unsuspecting college kids off in the middle of a big city to wander their way back, doing service along the way. I witnessed hundreds of people work out their faith in deep, intentional, painful and hilarious ways. I learned to live in community, saw God at work in the hands and feet and faces of the people across the table from me. And I got to do all of this with the best bunch of people I can imagine - Dan and Callie and Beth and Sharon and Don and Jeremy, Kristin and Katherine. That dynamic in all of Aaron Sorkin's screenplays? That's what this is. BVS is an informal organization and every gathering is accompanied by ample laughter, but heck if we don't do some serious lifting in the arena of being the Church and witnessing the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God. It's changed my lifestyle, and it's changed my life. And that, I suppose, makes me most grateful.