by Mary LaVigne
Since I began my time at Taller de José in August 2020, I have found myself “waiting” a lot. Waiting to go into the office for the first time, to meet co-workers, to meet clients. I have also been waiting to hear back on different client cases as hold times and responses are often prolonged or delayed due to COVID-19 limitations and heightened need. As someone new to Chicago, I have also been longing to explore more of the city.
All of this to say, I have been learning how to find joy in the waiting. Back in December, I was facilitating a spirituality night with my housemates, fellow Jesuit Volunteers like myself, who are participating in a year of post-graduate service rooted in intentional community. On that night, we all painted what “joy in the waiting” looks like to us, in light of the season of Advent. For me, it looked like bright and bold streaks of hot pink and light blue overlapping black and gold shades. In the center of the painting, I wrote “be gentle.” This has been a challenging year, and there have been many instances when I’ve felt overwhelmed or impatient. I am blessed by my co-workers, though, who remind me every day to be gentle with myself, exhale, and find grace in the wild of everything. Some days it is in the form of a check-in text asking how I am doing, and other days, it is a Compañerx extending a hand to help with a task or project.
I have found joy in the various phone calls with clients I get to have throughout the week. One client, in particular, has taught me a lot about being gentle. She and I have spoken many times in the last two months or so. I have assisted in offering interpretation and translation in her active family law-related case, but due to legal boundaries, I can’t offer a great deal with words. The phone calls have been spaces of listening, making connections with partner organizations, and exchanging positive words in the waiting. Sometimes there are more questions than answers, and now and then, there are tears. There are so few quick solutions these days, and I am grateful for the moments of admittance that things are not normal or easy. Especially now, nothing is immediately resolved or relieved, but hope still remains. Whether waiting takes minutes, days or weeks, I am still able to accompany my clients, as my clients and my fellow Compañerxs accompany me. As a person of faith, I see God in the process and in each person I encounter. I also received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine, and it filled me with a sore arm, but also a tangible way to help care for community. I am hopeful for what is yet to come, and I am grateful for the little moments that make remote work life-giving, too.