I arrive at OYP at about 2.30pm on 15 May 2015. Nox Gaudii begins at 8pm but I’m helping set up for the event. I last helped out at the very first Nox Gaudii held almost a year ago.
Wynee arrives with the boxes of food and soon I am standing in the kitchen packing buns and pastries into rows of two or three. I had always disdained this type of work- silly, mundane- what did it matter if there were three rows or two? Couldn’t people eat straight out of the boxes? I had felt deep down that this was work that was unnecessary. It was a waste of time. It was not the most efficient thing to do. The buns were already arranged neatly in the boxes. Why take them out and put them into another container? People would eat them anyway and the rows would disappear.
I realise now that there is a value in doing this work. I could not see it before. There is a simple value in doing something someone else asks of you. It means that you are thinking of them first, even if you think it is a waste of your time and your effort. You put away your own difficulties and suspend your judgment and fully support another person in their enterprise. This can go too far if you do things simply to please people and derive validation only from their acceptance of your sacrifice. But the ideal is so very much the Christian idea of love- to lay down your life for someone else- minute by minute, action by action when you stop thinking of your own endeavours and views but instead support a fellow person in theirs.
The first time I arrived at OYP I was dragging my feet. It was a Sunday, I’d come almost straight from 6pm Mass. This Friday I’m slightly ill but I’m looking forward to coming. There is a difference- I want to be here.
Soon after I am done with arranging the food, I am tasked with wiping tables. I am doing work I would previously have considered menial. Now I know that this work is necessary, so my first excuse falls away. The tables do have to be cleaned. But now other people can see me doing this work. I realised then that I am not actually afraid of their judgment because I don’t know what they think. My disdain for doing work of this kind merely reflected the way I judged people who did this kind of physical work. I did not place a value on the work that they do because it takes no skill, no experience, gives no room for me to showcase my expertise in any area.
Midway through the night Shaun asks me take out the trash from an overflowing bin. I do so without batting an eyelid. I no longer have this proud neck, unable to bend to anyone. I am so much more willing to accept whatever I am asked to do, to simply submit to God’s will. The dull repetitive work gives me time to think, and I realise that the value of doing this work is not merely in its result, in how well I can do it, how beautifully I can arrange the flowers I am asked to but in the attitude I take towards doing this work in the first place. When I learn to humble myself enough in front of other people, I can do the work joyfully, finding fulfillment in even the simplest tasks. They cease to be a burden to me, stop being uncomfortable things to do.
The people at OYP make it so easy for me, for everyone, to be free and be themselves, to allow themselves to just be in a safe place where every helping hand is welcome and no one is too good for any job. They allow us to work together freely with others to build the kingdom of God.
My journey with OYP began about a year ago. At the time I was much more uncertain about God’s love for me and my own love for Him. I am much more certain now. The journey continues slowly but I am gaining strength, I am seeing progress and I am so excited to see where this journey will lead me.