Rosehedge/Multifaith Works Blog

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What Being a Shanti Volunteer Means to Me

The few hours I spend with my Shanti partner each week is a chance for me to not have to deal with my issues, my life, my problems, etc.  In many ways, it’s a vacation from my week, as it’s my chance to witness someone else’s path, their highs and their lows, and a chance to feel many different feelings without having to own them. 
Volunteering with my partner is my opportunity to be there for someone else.  I’d love to say that I’m working while volunteering, but it never feels like work or something that I have to will myself to do.  I feel like I’m spending time with one of my most favorite people in the world.  Perhaps I look forward to being with my partner so much because he’s such an amazing person.  In all honesty, most of the time I feel guilty for enjoying the time with my partner so much, and maybe I should feel like it’s harder than it is.  But it isn’t hard; it’s naturally easy.  The time I spend with my partner is the highlight of my week each and every time… whether he is in a good mood or going through something tough.  I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

My partner is, by far, the bravest person I know.  He’s intelligent, hysterically funny, and the moments I spend with him are all in Technicolor in comparison to the rest of my week.  He doesn’t know it, but he helps me more than I help him.  He stops me from stewing in my own problems, he gives me perspective on my life, and he keeps me from narrowing things down in the cave of my own mind.  By talking about his things, he teaches me to face the toughest of things in my own life.

Every day I try to be a little bit more like my partner.

I learn so very much from my partner.  In many ways we have an older brother, younger sister relationship, and I cannot help but feel that I never want the days to end because I will never stop learning from him.  I learn from his strength, his experience, his perspective, his openness, and in so many other ways I cannot even begin to describe.  I’m also learning how approach my issues with a laugh and a joke, as he does.

More days than not, I end up at some point in our time together laughing so hard that I have trouble breathing.  More days than not, I walk away from our meeting wishing I could introduce him to everyone I know.  In fact, that’s the hardest part of being paired up with my Shanti partner: not knowing each other outside of our Shanti relationship.  He’s the truest sense of the word mensch.

My partner is the bravest person I know, not because he is stoic, but because he openly admits some of the hardest feelings people ever have to face.  He does it usually with a laugh, but he delves right in and he never shies away from the hardest of battles or feelings.  He lets me be there, and that, in itself, in my book, is one of the bravest things anyone can ever do.

Erica L
Shanti Volunteer


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