Value of Kinship

Miranda Myszka at the Food Pantry Window

While working in the Assumption Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen, I give a lot. I cannot count the number of canned goods and pounds of food that have passed though my hands on its way to clients’ bellies. But in all my giving, I also receive. These gifts take many forms—opportunities to build confidence, spiritual graces, and physical tokens. Some of my favorite tokens I’ve received from working the soup kitchen window include (but not limited to): 2 heart-shaped boxes of Valentines chocolates, a church bulletin, crucifix charm carried by a client for 23 years in prison before passing it on to me, homemade blackberry jam, a cross made of a folded palm leaf, and an infant’s baptismal gown. These items remind me of the people who blessed me with their stories. “We’re all in the same pot” is a phrase I’ve heard at the pantry. And I think this points to the most significant gift this service year gave me: the value of kinship. Sister Elaine Roulette states that one does not serve the poor from a superior, transactional position; rather, one “shares your life with the poor” (qtd. in Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle). I am humbled and wordlessly grateful for the time and relationships people shared with me at Assumption’s Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen. It’s been from dismantling boundaries that exclude and welcoming and seeing the people in front of me that has given me joy. It’s been an honor to not only serve, but share my life with others.

After FrancisCorps, I plan on teaching for two years with Boston College’s Urban Catholic Teacher Corps in Boston, Massachusetts. In terms of what I’m called to do, I intend to carry the values of relationships and community with me. One of my favorite aspects of this service year has been getting to know the people around me—both at my service site and with my fellow community members. It’s hard to put into words how this year influenced my “calling,” but moving forward, I hope to be someone who lives hospitality radically, loves abundantly, prays without ceasing, and practices the values of Franciscan foolishness that I admire so much and that FrancisCorps gave me the opportunity to practice.

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