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the pale green proof
by Theresa Giuffrida | July 26, 2012
I am the seed,
clods of earth in my
eyes, watered with tears.
I do not know where
I am going. I cannot see
nor dream, only feel
––deep. If I were a
green shoot I would
not know which direction
would take me to the light
above the surface
would I find laughter there,
harvest grain, plump like
plunged again into the black
granules and tears
or dried, beaten, baked,
in the sunlight, on a blanket
made of old pants laid
on the pale green proof
that it was worth it after all.
In answer to your question
Inevitably, you are wondering what that was and where it came from. “the pale green proof” is a poem I wrote in September of 2011 that really came from a variety of factors: the transition into life as a St. Joseph Worker, my tendency to write my world into something that makes sense at least to me, and a sincere longing to gracefully grow into a life of service, simplicity, and community.
I spent the past year as a full time volunteer (St. Joseph Worker) serving at St. Cecilia School and Academy in St. Louis, MO. This poem marks about a month into my service and the end of the honeymoon phase.
Birgit asked me to write something about my volunteer experience for the website, and I was of course thrilled to share what a wild ride this year has been, so after several failed attempts to share my year in anything shorter than a novel, I decided to go authentic and share a piece that sums it up—if that’s possible.
The main image of the seed and wheat is obviously unoriginal and intentionally so, but it is the perfect image for my prayer throughout this year.
Let’s be real. It is a total drag to be a seed. I would hate to be stuck in the dirt, and I really did hate the feeling of not knowing where I was going or if it was even possible to grow through some of the experiences that presented themselves this year.
My personified seed cries. She waters herself because she lost. Sometimes this is how we grow; we are hurt, disappointed, and mad, so we cry. Crying can be productive.
This February, one of my mentors told me to make a list of everything that made me mad—really, really upset. She said that everything on that list would reveal a value because we only get straight up angry about something because it violates one of our values.
So, I made my list. I realized that the values that were hiding in dirt where I couldn’t really see them are ones that I am proud of. I value community, respect, justice, education, communication, prayer, reconciliation, and peace. I realized that I love being a lay woman and my unique call to share God with the world. Without acknowledging my emotions of sadness and anger at the situations I encountered while living in community and doing my best to serve my students and their families, I would have never been able to truly articulate what I am passionate about.
God has showed me that I love my students more than ever thought that I could love anyone, and I learned to love them in everything. Running races at recess, putting bandaids on knees, planning all school masses, translating notes home, and helping their parents fill out forms all became ways to grow and to share myself.
I learned to speak up for myself in community, to soften my tenacity but not lose it, to learn when to let things to go, to listen and to support at all times.
I don’t know if I’m the bread or the grass at the end of the poem. I’m probably either one depending on the day—or both, but I do know that on those days that I just want to sit in the dirt and cry that eventually, that is with prayer and the sincere gift of friendship, I will know to the very root of me that it was worth it after all.
Theresa Giuffrida is from St. Louis, and she is a youth minister and Spanish teacher at Assumption Parish and School in O’Fallon, MO. She just completed a year of service in June 2012 as a full time volunteer at St. Cecilia School and Academy through the St. Joseph Worker Program in St. Louis. A Catholics on Call Alumni from August 2009, she loved getting meet other young people who are passionate about serving the Church and the community. Theresa graduated from Truman State University, where she was active at the Catholic Newman Center, in 2010 with her Bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish and in 2011 with a Masters in Spanish Education.