“Be a person for others.” We have heard this many times and in many different ways, but it is worth asking ourselves the following questions. “Why do we exist?” “What kind of persons are we?” “Are we living for ourselves?” or “are we living for others?”
Our world has been in a seemingly endless dark and uncertain time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of what lies ahead in life remains uncertain, may it be in our country’s state, health, or relationships. To cope with all this uncertainty, many of us have resorted to worrying as a tool to try to predict the future, in hopes of finding a solution and being able to control the outcome. Though this may be a valid coping mechanism, it does not provide a concrete solution to our problems. We can also choose to focus on what we can have control over. In this time of darkness, let us choose to see and be the light for others.
When we do something for others, light emanates from us. It is the light of caring, of love, and of compassion. It is the light that every genuine human heart contains. Sadly, light is often hidden. It is our duty to unleash this light and let it shine through the darkness and uncertainty we face.
Working in the vaccination site for the past few weeks has definitely been quite a journey – a journey filled with sacrifices: the fear of contracting the virus, a test of our patience, long exhausting hours of ushering, having to say the instructions hundreds of times, and the list goes on. Most of us, if not all, are at a point in our lives where we are not encumbered with responsibilities, apart from our studies. Summer is for us to enjoy and make the most out of our youth yet we all chose to have fun while serving others. We chose to be the light in the midst of darkness. We chose to live out the value of being a person for others.
It wasn’t easy, but it was definitely worth it. We faced thousands of different personalities from the vaccinees – some would greet us with a warm good morning or a good afternoon. Others would only offer us silence. Some of us even had to put up with the anger, impatience, and bad manners of some vaccinees. Though this was exhausting, we knew that responding in kindness and patience was the best service we can offer them. In the midst of all these sacrifices, we were given the chance to get to know other people that we wouldn’t otherwise have associated with in school: familiar faces turned into unforgettable friendships, hi’s and hello’s turned into meaningful conversations, and of course fulfilling the mandatory tiktoks at the end of the day.
As most of us, student volunteers, are former students of the school, the only chance we could communicate with our teachers was when we needed something from them. Now that we are working together with them, we were able to learn a new side of each other apart from the professional aspect. This experience has pushed all of us to step out of ourselves in a way we have never done before, and through this, we were able to learn more about ourselves. Regardless of our positions in school, whether teacher, custodian, guard, or student, we all share the same goal: to heal as one.
Essentially, we were given the chance to extend our valuable time, energy, and patience for the good of the community. This experience has indeed made us realize that together, we can do so much and we are able to make a change.
Even with all these good aspects, uncertainty still manages to creep in. Questions lurk: When will this all end? When will the vaccines be available to me? Are the vaccines enough protection against the virus? Yet we are comforted by the fact that, even in these trying times, God has not abandoned us. Vaccines eventually did become available and, even though our country may not be close to ending the pandemic, at least we are taking one step forward by getting vaccinated and encouraging others to do the same.
It truly has been a heartwarming and rewarding experience to see, firsthand, the joy of the people getting the COVID-19 vaccine. While the community was living and walking in darkness, our acts of service became their light. Not only did it enlighten us, but the light radiated to others as well to be a part of the action towards healing as one for a better tomorrow.
At the end of the day, all we need is hope and strength. Hope that it will eventually get better and strength to hold on and endure until it does. While we are waiting, whatever hardships, challenges, and fears we are facing, we must remember that by the grace of God, these too shall pass and we will overcome them. The same questions still remain: “Why do we exist?” “What kind of person are we?” “Are we living for ourselves?” or “are we living for others?”
It may seem hard or even impossible to answer these, but I’m sure our experiences as volunteers have given us a bit of insight as to what the answers could be. Today is the Solemnity of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. From him we learn an answer to the questions, which, he got from no less our Lord Jesus himself: “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”
We live to become God’s disciples. We are called to love one another even if it costs us our time and energy. We are to live our life for Him by serving without counting the cost.
by Elyssa Marriet D. Roque