Upon hearing the news, I ran out onto the street and called my mom. “Hi,” she answered quietly. She knew why I was calling. Moms always know. My eyes were already wet, but then the tears really began to flow. “Mom, I’m so sad.”
Though it’s hard to admit, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death shattered me. As a person who serves in the non-profit legal realm, RBG has been a hero of mine for quite some time. In college, I had a photo of her on the mantle in my bedroom. I dressed up as her for Halloween. Friends joked that I worshipped her, and I laughed because they weren’t entirely wrong. I felt she exemplified what this week’s reading urges of all of us: “humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.” Throughout her life’s work, she lifted others up while promoting solidarity and liberation. I aimed to live this way, too.
Upon entering the workforce a few years ago, I found that the challenges in my field could be ruthless, but with her at the helm, there was always hope. In the midst of a global pandemic, I’ve tried my best to ignore my personal afflictions in pursuit of tending to others’. It seemed easier that way. Hurting—my hurting—felt undeserved and time consuming. Nonetheless, my anxiety swelled, and I pushed it down with everything I could muster. Until I couldn’t anymore.
Upon reflection after her passing, I realized newfound meaning in the following part of the reading: “each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.” This does not mean that we must entirely disregard ourselves in favor of others. It is in the “but also” that we come to know what it is to be “united by heart.” Cura personalis, or care of the whole person, encompasses all of us, and as we extend compassion to others, we also extend compassion to ourselves. Admittedly, this is no small task, especially in hard times, but if we wish to give of ourselves, we must have something to give.
The road we walk toward justice is long and hard, and it felt easier with her helping to lead the way. The burden now seems greater, which is why it is of utmost importance to offer love to our neighbors with the foundation of knowing God’s love and our own love for ourselves. For it is through love that we will prevail.
Caitlin Wright considers herself an aficionado for all things Jesuit. After graduating from Creighton University (Go Jays!) in 2017 with a degree in English, Spanish, and Legal Studies, Caitlin completed a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Brooklyn, NY. She continues to reside in Brooklyn and works as an immigration counselor at Catholic Migration Services, a not-for-profit organization that provides legal aid to migrants in Brooklyn and Queens. In her free time, Caitlin enjoys going to Broadway shows, singing with the schola at the Church of St. Francis Xavier, and finding the best bagels New York has to offer.