James is one of this year’s CAFOD gap year participants. He is based at YMT Consett and will visit CAFOD programmes in El Salvador in January 2014. These are a few of his thoughts…
I find myself caught in the situation where I am overwhelmed by the extent of work that CAFOD does. I am just one person who has found himself caught in amongst this mechanism of Global Justice. However, that ‘just’ is not a limitation as we would first assume, instead it is an acknowledgement of my individuality, an individuality that is shared by every other person in this world.
In an attempt to relate to any other person in this world I first had to take a step back to recognise our similarities, echoes of myself, what I know to be home for me, a doppelganger of the heart. It’s through that openness which I experienced in prayer that I found a desperate urge to learn and feel the aesthetics of another culture, a culture so deeply immersed in faith that life naturally cohorts with a prayer. I want to know of a global community that is not ‘for’ its people but instead ‘of’ its people.
This is what first drew me towards CAFOD, a collection of people that so wholeheartedly respect others, that understand the frailty of life and the volatility of passion. At the heart of my Christian faith is a striving for inclusiveness, something that I see reflected in CAFOD’s value of solidarity. But above all else, I accompany CAFOD in their work because they would presuppose learning instead of making the assumption to teach. Just as I would not dare to enter your house and tell you how to Hoover your carpet or inform you that your dusting is flawed, but I would instead immerse myself in your personal culture, engage with the artefacts of your life and take an interest in the individual it all represents.
So now I find myself fostering the probing question ‘Who am I to share in this privilege of venturing to El Salvador?’, but paradoxically, who am I not to be? I am a 23-year old man who had a rigid plan set before him since before he left secondary school, and then God manipulated the details of my life, dropkicked me hundreds of miles away from home, and graced me with strength to pursue all arrays of ventures I could not yet comprehend. I was once intimidated by the prospect of this stage in my life’s journey, but now I am full of anticipation so that I might fully embrace this experience.
This now leaves me with the question: ‘What can I offer?’