Celebration and gratitude are important. When thinking about celebration and gratitude, we most often think about big things – birthdays, graduating university, getting married, being recognised as a refugee after a long and torturous wait. We often forget about the smaller things in our lives which, when we stop to think about it, we are all grateful for and can celebrate – the friend who always checks-in to see how you are, a cool breeze on a hot day, the quiet and attentive accompaniment of others.
31st July each year is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. Gratitude is one of the cornerstones of Ignation spirituality and we decided to mark this joyful feast day with a time of reflection and celebration.
Our day began with a passage from the essays of St. Alberto Hurtado, a Jesuit from Chile who is the name sake of the Hurtado Jesuit Centre, where JRS UK is based. His writings spoke of the need to be aware of our individual strengths, talents and gifts and that we must have the knowledge to use what has been given to us to benefit others. That humility is not to belittle ourselves, but to put our strengths to the service of others. His writings encouraged us not to be scared of failure but to continue to push on. His words led us to reflect and chat about what we as an organisation and as individuals had achieved over the year. In acknowledging our achievements, we were able to see the qualities and skills we each have and think about who supported us along the way.
“Better to have the humility to begin great tasks with the danger of failing, than to reduce one’s goal out of pride in order to guarentee success.”
St. Alberto Hurtado
To finish off our reflection, we were invited to spend some time to think about the other members of the JRS UK team – staff, volunteers and refugee friends – and the attributes and strengths that they have which contribute to our work. We each shared our gratitude for the small things that people do around the office. The fruitful discussions allowed us each to express our gratitude for one another and reaffirm some of the reasons we are called to our work.
Together, we celebrated mass with some of the Jesuit community who live in Wapping. As he was saying mass, Fr. Mike picked up on some of the words from Alberto Hurtado’s essay, drawing out their relevance to our work at JRS. The day concluded with the usual JRS practice of sharing lunch, just as we do every day, but this time with a few extra special dishes and a small glass of wine.
“Love ought to show itself in deeds more than in words.”
The feast day had given us the opportunity to take some time away from our to-do lists, and to focus on our shared values and what brings us together as one society.