Taking Their Places in the World


Neshia, Anand, and Amy

Amy Chatelaine, Anand Dwivedi and Neshia Alaovae arrived at Joseph’s House last September to serve here for a year, from the heart.  Our welcoming home is perched on the very edge of life and death and it took courage for them to cross the threshold. When they did we asked them for a lot. They gave their all.

We asked for their courage to turn toward suffering rather than running from it. We invited them to learn to become merciful with themselves and forgiving of others when discouraged or disappointed by a situation or a person – including when they somehow disappointed themselves. In those painful times we asked them to pause, breathe deeply, and allow time for the heart to open again.

Not only did we ask Neshia, Anand and Amy to become deeply, respectfully interested in our residents and really get to know them, we asked them to allow themselves to be known as well. We encouraged them to be both gentle and persistent as they grew in their ability to create a safe, comfortable space between themselves and the very ill man or deeply anxious woman with no energy left for interaction or incentive to trust. During those times when it felt like connection just wasn’t happening we asked them to pause, breathe, go back to the person; and begin again.

They spent regular time with Dr. David Hilfiker exploring the roots of racism, poverty, disease and injustice in our society. Emily Carton provided guidance and resources as they learned to pay attention to the truth of their own experience, to grow in self-awareness and to speak with their own voice.

Every day they prepared home-made meals for up to 16 people and more. They facilitated conversations around the table so that everyone was included – and they slipped the dog a treat when they thought no one was watching!

How they grew as human beings! Amy, Anand and Neshia didn’t just pay lip service to the practice of listening deeply – they took the practice on, showing up moment by moment as fully present as they were able to be. In our everyday life together they learned to pause in their many daily activities with our residents but, most especially in the long, sometimes anxious hours at the bedside where a person they had come to love lay dying. They remembered to pause, breathe, and find a place of rest in the middle of things. This is how they learned to turn toward suffering: gently, a little at a time.

All of this learning they are taking with them as they go. Joseph’s House is a more compassionate community because they were with us. The world will be kinder, more courageous and fair as they take their places in it.

Anand, Neshia and Amy – we give thanks for you, friends. Come back and see us when you can. May God bless you and keep you

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