“We are of the same flesh”

Rosalinda Betancourth, a novice with the Daughters of Jesus, reflects on her two months of work experience with various associations in Limoges, France. During this experience, she asked God to give her His regard so that she could look at others and accept them as they are.

Solidarity in a variety of forms

From the 9th of October to the 9th of December 2023, I did a work placement in Limoges with various associations: the restaurant La Bonne Assiette, Secours Catholique, the Jesuit Refugee Service, the Food Bank, the Order of Malta and the Parvis des Clarisses.

These two and a half months provided me with a variety of experiences including work with :

– migrants.

– the elderly living alone.

– those in extremely precarious situations.

– people with no social security.

During this experience, the Limoges community of the Daughters of Jesus accompanied me with their solidarity and fraternal support.

God’s living words

God has chosen us to show each other the face of his love.

We are God’s vocabulary, living words that give voice to God’s goodness through our own goodness, that give voice to God’s compassion, tenderness, care and faithfulness through our own.”

(Leo Rock, SJ).

This quote stayed with me throughout my placement because this experience was a time when I always asked the Lord to give me His regard. I asked that I might be able to :

  • Look at others and accept them as they are.
  • accept others who are different and see this as enriching.
  • above all, not be indifferent to others but let myself be touched by them.
  • have my “feet in the mud” and be a living presence of the Lord in their midst.
  • be present to them in every way.

And the Lord did indeed allow me to live under His gaze. As we sing in Spanish,  “Give me Your regard and Your compassion, Lord.”

Letting the Lord gaze upon me

The first week of adaptation was very hard and emotionally tiring, as I tried to let go of my ego and cross my personal boundaries.

It was a time to allow the Lord to gaze upon me again and say to Him :

Look at my smallness and my poverty; what you have entrusted to me is great but give me the strength and the confidence to be able to honour You wherever You have sent me.”

This enabled me to open up without fear and to overcome my resistance. I learnt to accept the odours, as I served a plate of food, talked with people and listened to them. I learnt to be attentive to everyone, to visit them in their homes when they didn’t come to eat and to go into different neighbourhoods to distribute meals.

Living our humanising charism

For me, our charism means being attentive to what the other person can bring to me. It is reciprocal giving and receiving. Living this experience among people in vulnerable situations and from different cultures has enriched my own culture.

An example of this occurred when I was talking to a migrant from Guinea who is a volunteer in an association. He said to me: “I live on the street“, but he insisted: “I have received freely, without charge, and I give freely, without charge, to others who are suffering like me.”

In his testimony, I saw that he didn’t just look at his difficulty, but that he had become a support for others: he found something positive in everything and he always had a solution. 

Learning from others

Another young man, of French origin and autistic, is a volunteer at the social restaurant “La Bonne Assiette“. Giving of his time in the service of the poorest, serving them the bread or the sauces, helps him to feel useful despite his frailty. He is aware of his disability and his limitations.

This young man taught me not to see his disability, but rather to see him as a person capable of giving of himself. I learned to trust, despite everything, in who he was and what he did. I was able to see this every Tuesday when we worked together.

His presence helped me to reread, recognise and name the resistances in me to living my work placement in the restaurant to the full. I learned to not stay with the “I can’t“, but to instead break down the barriers that were in me. I came to recognise that I am human, capable of giving of myself and of learning from others. 

Rosalinda Betancourth

Novice, Daughters of Jesus

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