Jess Heringer, Area Director for the Yakima, Wenatchee, and Omak communities, reflects on the change of season, both inside and outside the JVC Northwest office:
As I bike to work these past few weeks I’ve been amazed by the beauty around me. The sun has begun to peak out more and more, bright flowers are appearing in the JVC Northwest community garden, and even the rain seems gentler. Spring is here!
This time of year, discernment is also in the air. At JVC Northwest we embrace a process of mutual discernment as we interview applicants who are considering a year of service. Drawing from the wisdom of St. Ignatius of Loyola and his Spiritual Exercises, we seek to facilitate a process of decision making that respects the freedom of potential volunteers, partner agencies, and JVC Northwest.
The process is mutual because all involved are invited to be part of the decision-making process. Just as much as we are trying to see if an applicant is a good fit for our program, we ask applicants to honestly explore their desire to live the values of simple living, social/ecological justice, spirituality, and community. It’s a big decision to commit to a year of living in solidarity with the poor and marginalized, and sometimes as applicants go through our interview process they realize that this is not the right time or best program for them. We greatly respect this discernment and have found it to be just as valuable as the prayer and reflection that leads an applicant to discover that they are very passionate about becoming a Jesuit Volunteer in the Northwest.
We invite each person to listen to the deeper desires of their heart – what types of service bring joy and energy? What justice issues do applicants feel passionate about addressing? At the same time, we also ask applicants to open themselves to possibilities they might not have considered. In all the twists and turns of matching and placing a volunteer, we trust that mutual discernment will lead to decisions that are life-giving and transformative.
In The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, James Martin, S.J. writes, “Discernment has a practical end. It is not simply a way to try to find God’s will; nor is it a way just to move closer to God in prayer. Discernment helps to decide what is the best way to act. It isn’t simply about relationship with God alone; it is about living out your faith in the real world.” This spring, we give thanks for all who are involved in the discernment process that will empower the 2012-2013 Jesuit Volunteers in the Northwest to embody this faith seeking justice.