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IN Living simple


Spending a year in service to others helped me learn a lot about myself • BY ELIZABETH MODDE (BA ’15, BS ’15)


“DOC MARTENS OR RAIN BOOTS?” I ask Mackenzie as she slides on her flats. My four housemates and I are at the front door, about to set off for a night out. Yet this night is a bit different from when I went out with friends just months before at Loyola. While spending a year in ser- vice with the Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry (BSVM), I’ve chosen to live more simply; to live with less. My choices have been simplified as well—what shoes should I wear with this skirt? Except that beyond selecting my pair of shoes lie much more complex questions. Soon after graduating from Loyola,


I arrived in Baltimore to begin my year of service. As we drove through my new neighborhood, I saw side- walks that were littered and crum- bling. Soon enough, I would discover needles on my walks to work. But to prepare for a career of bringing heal- ing to underserved populations as a physician, I wanted to get my feet wet in a hospital setting. Spending a year with the BSVM seemed an appropri- ate way to do it. More importantly, it is what I felt called to do. I would be working full-time in


patient advocacy at a community hos- pital that largely served an uninsured and underinsured patient population. I would also be living in an inten- tional community with four other recent college graduates. Together, we’d embrace and struggle with the BSVM values of community, service, faith, justice, and, of course, simplic- ity—like choosing between the Doc Martens and rain boots. I’ve been challenged to define


what is “enough” to live with, but I’ve also been confronted with what “not enough” means to others. On one of the first days with below freez- ing temperatures, a woman asked for shoes from the hospital’s Good Help Clothing Closet, which I help to manage. I sent her out into the cold wearing a pair of Crocs, which was all we had in her size. As I lifted the patient’s dry, cracked feet to layer two pairs of socks on, I hoped she would be warm enough. Wanting others to have their needs


met encouraged me to make a con- scious effort to understand my own needs. Amazingly, by allowing time for the process, the mission “to live simply so that others may simply live” had the beautiful middle step of helping me to discover self-love. As I recognized myself as enough, I stopped seeking satisfaction in activ- ities and material items.


Seeking to live simply removes


some of the chaos that surrounds us and begs the important questions of how I define myself and how that defi- nition affects others. After complet- ing my year with BSVM, I continue to be challenged by these questions. Now attending medical school at the University of Missouri, service is a way of life. As a part of the St. Francis Catholic Worker community, I’m able to host people who are homeless in my new home, an experience that col- ors my medical education with com- passion and deeper understanding of the social determinants of health. It helps me build trust with the patients I see at our student-run free clinic, MedZou, where I serve as a student director. And I am still reminded that a simpler approach to life, one that acknowledges my own dignity and the dignity of those around me, lifts and enriches us all. L


WINTER 2018 23 FOCUS


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