By Stephanie Birmingham
My name is Stephanie Birmingham and I am a 2009 graduate of St. Norbert College. Joining in January, I have been a member of the Norbertine Volunteer Community for approximately three months. During this short time I have a better idea of what it means to know and serve God, and I have witnessed the transformative power of God’s constant love.
In meeting one-on-one with inmates at the Brown County Jail, I have realized what it truly means to be present to another human being and what it means to listen with an open heart and mind. Whether it is the woman who is struggling with drug addiction and having to be separated from her children, or the young man who shares his challenging childhood, I am reminded that at our core we are fundamentally the same. It is in listening to an inmate’s story of heartache, alcohol and drug abuse, loneliness, poverty, emptiness, and pain, and hearing their desire to turn their lives over to God that I better understand God’s continual call for us to seek His love and mercy.
While there is little I can do to change the particular circumstances or situations of the men and women I meet, I can do my best to see Christ in them and meet them wherever they are on their spiritual journey. I can attempt to embrace the spiritual and emotional needs of those I encounter by remembering that we are all yearning for acceptance, compassion … someone to hear our small yet important voice. I am reminded of the human desire to be loved, and, above all, to have a connection with something greater than ourselves.