Volunteer Reflection: “First Keep Peace With Yourself” – By Alexander C. Puttarelli
Perhaps in one of the most eloquent ways possible Thomas a Kempis spoke of peace by saying, “First keep peace with yourself, then you can also bring peace to others.” Kempis delivered this quote in the 14th century without inkling that it would be a profound theme in my experience at Agape.
Entering into the wooded area that surrounds the community I knew that I had become completely disconnected from my comfort zone within the hustle and bustle of the crowded city I grew up in. Yearning for the knowledge of nonviolence and environmental justice, I eagerly entered my short but impactful week at the Agape Community.
Never did I imagine, being someone who had done previous service immersion trips that I would change in any way. The Agape Community made me realize that I would never make a good architect because I finally realized I had building my passions for social justice in the wrong order.
Agape allowed me to tear down the walls I had built about what social justice means in order to start over, this time building a foundation first. I prayed in new ways. I sat in many drum circles. I entered into periods of silence. I worked hard. I disconnected from technology, and I learned to love in order to find peace in myself.
I learned to love how loud silence really is and how the distant sounds of woodpeckers are the most beautiful song of nature I have ever heard. I learned to love the wood that I helped to carry out of the forest. I learned that I needed to disconnect from social media, technology, and the outside world to reconnect with peace and love.
In the end I knew my path in life had always been pointed in the direction of Agape. It was always the plan for me to stumble upon this community and I am glad that it came at this period in my life. Through our many conversations about nonviolence, environmental justice, and justice for gender equality in the military I began to transform my thinking of social justice. Fully equipped with a foundation of peace within myself, as mentioned by Kempis, I am now able to go blaze my path with passion, love, and peace towards social justice.
Alex was a student leader from Stonehill College who joined with other students for the third Rural Immersion Program through Stonehill. He returned for the Agape Workday in June.