Searching Through the Mess

Tell us about a risk you have taken.


I'm the last one into the room. I was busy responding to an "I remember you" from Airianna, a five-year-old girl I had tutored a few weeks ago. I remembered her too; remembered how much I had liked her name, remembered getting none of her work done, remembered playing her version of tic-tac-toe, which consisted of a playing grid of 112 squares and no apparent rules, and especially remembered her asking me if I was a boy or girl, for she thought I was a boy but my "fancy hair" was throwing her off. So I am last into the room full of the other weekly volunteers. The room, this whole place in fact, seems to sag with an exhausted sadness and defeat at the hands of age and neglect.

Adam, our leader, reflects, "It could seem that there's not a lot of meaning in making dinner for these people or sometimes even in helping a kid with homework. I mean, how are you supposed to find meaning in cooking cheap macaroni and cheese, value in washing filthy dishes, or beauty in kindergarten math? But that's the challenge. That, what we do in that kitchen, that's a mess. So finding meaning in the mess, finding value and even beauty, is the challenge. And it's a hard one, because to search often involves...

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