April 20, 2012

Catholic Education Outreach / Kay Scoville

One tube of lip gloss helps build the kingdom

Kay ScovilleAs we embrace the joy of the Easter season and look toward Pentecost, the Risen Christ calls us to follow him. But what does that mean, especially to a young person?

Pope Benedict XVI offered the following insight in his address to the young people on the anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s death: “Christ needs you at his side to extend and build his kingdom of charity.”

Samantha Ardery, a seventh-grade student and member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, understands that call to charity. She shared her witness after traveling to southern Indiana to help people whose lives were devastated by tornadoes on March 2:

“On March 10, I went down to Osgood, and I helped sort care packages for people struck by the tornado. It was honestly the most horrific and beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Some points were amazing, and you just wanted to stand there in awe at the beauty of some people’s hearts. But you couldn’t stand there and stare because there was work to be done.

“Other times, you just wanted to look away and cry. Regular people, like you and me, standing there with absolutely nothing. All that they had were the clothes that were on them, and whatever others could provide for them.

“I was designated to make cleaning care packages, and when I wasn’t doing that I was sorting toiletries into different boxes. Everything that was there was to be sent to Holton, which is right outside Osgood.

“There were clothes, books, toys, cleaning supplies, baby supplies, food, water bottles and the one thing that struck me most—lip gloss. In all, there were about 10 tubes. I thought, Of course, your house is completely demolished so your main priority is the shininess of your lips. But when it was explained to me, it made so much sense.

“For someone who puts lip gloss on every day, not doing it almost feels inhuman. But by receiving that tube of lip gloss and putting it on, it feels like a regular day at that moment.

“Isn’t that all a person in that situation wants? A regular day? That feeling that nothing bad has happened, and nothing bad will happen. That naïve little kid feeling that nothing ever goes wrong on this perfect planet. That is what one tube of lip gloss can give a person in devastation.

“Another thing I saw that was truly amazing was the amount of items that people were giving to a very small town. My group drove through Holton, and it was very small. There were tons of just the most random things. There were tubes of toothpaste, combs, bottles of Pine Sol, wash rags, toys and baby food.

“There was everything a regular family would need on a daily basis. It amazed me how much people in a small town needed, and how much they were given. I never knew until that day how large the American heart is.

“At one point, I was sorting a box. While unloading it, I found five angel teddy bears. That kind of thing isn’t to make adults feel better, it’s for the kids. When people think of devastation like this, they mainly think of adults. But they are forgetting that some of these adults have kids.

“How would you feel if today you went home and everything you ever had was gone? You only had the stuff that was with you at school. One set of clothing, whatever is in your backpack, and the stuff in your locker that you can maybe retrieve the next day. No random cash. You have literally nothing. You might cry, right? You would at least be sad or panicky. That is how these people feel.

“When leaving Osgood to get home, we drove through Holton. It was still horrible, and already work had been done—a week’s worth of work. There were places where on one side of the street there was just rubble, and the other side looked as if nothing had happened there. Trees had crushed houses. Some houses had parts missing from them. It made me want to run away and cry.

“Still, going down there and helping was a life-changing experience for me. I hope that everyone gets the chance to see what I saw that day. I hope that every person on this planet gets to feel what I felt that day—that warm fuzzy feeling in the pit of your stomach—knowing you’ve done something that helped someone you don’t know and probably will never know in your lifetime.

“That is what I call community service. Just doing something out of the goodness of your heart.”

This is the story of one youth who responded to the call to build the kingdom. The possibilities for each of us, with God’s grace, are endless.

“No one is superfluous to such an undertaking,” Pope Benedict said. “Therefore, never cease to ask yourselves what the Lord is calling you to do, and how you can help him.”

(Kay Scoville is the archdiocesan director of youth ministry. E-mail her at kscoville@archindy.org or call 800-382-9836, ext. 1430, or 317-236-1430.)

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