Epiphany in the city of angels

I’ll be the first to admit that I was hesitant to go on a Jesuit High School immersion to Skid Row in Los Angeles. Though I knew I would be going through the experience with close friends, I didn’t know what to expect.

The night before my group was scheduled to depart, I hastily packed my clothes and went to sleep. I tossed and turned during the night. What would I see? Who would I meet? Was I ready to set aside my personal concerns and willingly serve others?

Several days later, as my fellow group members and I grew accustomed to the rhythms of the service, the conversations, and the reflections, I started to forget my previous worries.

I grew more aware in the discussions I had with Jerry, a devoted Christian who had faced homelessness and had lived at the Cardinal Manning Center, a transitional residence for people living on Skid Row.

I noticed the abundant gratitude of generous people like Bernán, who dedicated his life to serving the less fortunate at the St. Francis Center on Hope Street.

At the Alexandria Safe House for Women and Children, I saw the joy that we brought into the lives of kids by making desserts and having fun with them.

Everyone I met was unique and complex, complete with challenges, dreams, fears, desires, and love. Simply being in their presence forced me to think, rexamine my thoughts and feelings, and consider the person whom I was becoming.

Ultimately, they helped me discover myself and all of my complexities. We were the same, just people trying to find goodness, fulfillment, and truth in a complicated world with each of us struggling yet succeeding in the end.