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"Could you get me one of those?" Ramon asked, pointing to the Tau I've been wearing since we received them at the closing of our first FVM retreat. This simple request struck me as beautiful during our conversation, but it wasn't until I reflected on it later that I was struck by how poignant Ramon's simple desire was.
I wear the Tau as a reminder to live and serve humbly, as Christ and Francis did. Ramon already lives his entire life humbly. A migrant worker, he takes care of horses at a local racetrack, doing manual labor for extremely long hours and little pay. He faced being away from both his sister and father, as they went through serious illnesses, and ultimately both passed away. Ramon's illegal status made it impossible for him to return to Mexico to say goodbye, comfort them, or attend their funerals. Yet, he comes to Mass every week with a smile on his face and is always ready to share his joy and sense of humor with everyone he comes in contact with. His life epitomizes the loving, humble example that the Tau is meant to embody.
This humility transcends through all of the ministries I am involved with. For instance, I am consistently struck by the humility that the women at Baylor Women's Correctional Institute possess. When I first started teaching a creative writing course in the prison, I was amazed at the women's willingness to share extremely personal writing and their passion to learn. Many of them are phenomenal writers, and yet, they consistently ask me for advice and are always excited to try a new style of writing or a unique writing prompt. After seeing their strong interest in Langston Hughes, I brought a book that is a compilation of Hughes' poetry. I loaned the book to one of the women, Tashara, who eagerly responded, "It's all Hughes?! This is incredible! I promise I will return this in perfect condition." Tashara's response is indicative of many of the women's joy in the simplest things, which I often take for granted. The women in the prison also consistently demonstrate the Franciscan desire to humbly serve through their willingness to offer what they have. During a conversation, I mentioned hot dogs as being a side dish with macaroni and cheese. Tashara declared that I'm crazy to eat macaroni and cheese with hot dogs, and that when she gets out of prison, she would show me how to really eat, and cook me "soul food." One of my family members passed away, and on my first day returning to the prison after being gone for the funeral, multiple women approached me with a hug and kind words. There have been countless times when I have seen inmates encouraging each other and giving one another advice.
Every day I am blessed to be reminded of St. Francis' humbleness by seeing the "living Tau"--all of those I interact with whose lives embody the humility that the Tau represents.
• Kelly, Wilmington '09−'10
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