BY GRACE OGIHARA | October 7, 2016
It was just before noon on a Friday when I told my boss that I didn’t think I could make it through the rest of the afternoon. My neck was stiff from sleeping wrong combined with stress from the week. Sitting at a computer all morning hadn’t helped either. So I went home after telling a coworker that we would have to reschedule our plans to meet up and eat overpriced desserts.
Friday afternoon was not fun. On the bus ride home every bump in the road caused a jolt of pain to shoot up my neck. When I got home I laid still on my bed for three hours to ease my pain.
I am not used to lying around and doing nothing. I enjoy being out and about, hiking, playing tennis–basically being out in the sunshine every chance I get. If I’m inside, I read or cook or paint. But with my neck injured, I had to lie still. That felt really different; it’s been six weeks of a flurry of activities since I became a Jesuit Volunteer, including community hangouts and spirituality nights and getting plugged into the great Twin Cities community.
The next day, I had planned to go out with my JVC community mates on a morning hike and picnic. I chose to stay back because my neck and upper back were still feeling awful. Instead, I spent time in prayer and in the Word. A couple weeks ago I joined BSF—Bible Study Fellowship—an international Bible study that is going through the book of John. It’s something I joined for the first time in the Twin Cities, hoping to build relationships outside of JVC community and placement agency. I spent my Saturday morning reading through the BSF lesson and talking to God.
In this time of conversation with God, I brought to Him my concerns. One of them is that I am the only one without some sort of law, political science, or global studies background at The Advocates for Human Rights, my JVC placement agency that provides low-income refugees and immigrants with free legal services. I’ve been asked if I was going to law school, and my answer outwardly has been “no,” inwardly it’s been “of course not!” I have believed I wasn’t fit for my position. It’s also been a bit hard to find community at church and friends outside of my housemates. The church I’ve been attending strongly suggests that everyone joins a small group; I’ve been going to one for a few weeks but haven’t really connected with anyone. After I prayed about all these things, I had to lie down again and be still because of my neck.
Though I otherwise would’ve been outside traipsing about Minnesota wilderness, I recognized my weekend being injured as sacred and precious time I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’m counting it as a blessing after the fact. It was like God was literally making me be still, so that I might know Him better, just like the verse, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Since that weekend, I’ve been reminded again and again of God’s glory and his greatness. He has given me peace with the truths I’ve tucked away since. He measures water and weighs mountains and hills in the crevices of his hands –how insignificant are our worries! We make small issues seem so big yet God is so much bigger. He is logos–order in the world, the reason for sustained life. And if God holds the stars and seas together, He is definitely holding my life together.
#JVReflects explores the intersection of faith and justice from the perspective of JESUIT VOLUNTEERS serving as long-term volunteers both domestically and internationally with Jesuit Volunteer Corps and Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest. Reflections specifically focus on the cornerstone values of the Jesuit volunteer experience: spirituality, simple living, community, and social justice.
Grace Ogihara is a Jesuit Volunteer and Refugee and Immigrant Program Assistant in the Twin Cities, MN. She’s from San Jose, CA and a graduate of Santa Clara University in Communication and Studio Art.