Okra Abbey

Full disclosure: I’ve been dying to be a part of the blogging world for years… I’m obsessed with my favorite bloggers, and those close to me will tell you that I talk about them like they’re my best friends. Yet, I’ve always felt I didn’t have anything particularly special to write about and that I wouldn’t fit into any blogging niche.

Well, I finally have a reason (actually, an obligation!) to blog due to a really exciting journey on my horizon. 🙂

As I sit here on my front porch on Folly Beach dancing in my rocking chair to the soundtrack from Porgy and Bess, the upcoming adventure I’m writing about sounds spiritual, rewarding, and peaceful. I know I’ve romanticized it in my mind. I know it’ll also be tough and exhausting, and sometimes sad and scary. And I’m excited that I’m required to share it with you through written word, because writing about it will help me process things, and it will give you the opportunity to live it alongside me (the good, the bad, the rewarding, AND the discouraging!).

As I know it has with most of you, the last year has really taken a toll on me. The politics, sadness, hatred, and feeling of lack of control over the rapid changes happening in our country has led many of us to feel a sense of helplessness. At the time all of this really started to pick up, I was working to help children in Africa receive educations – a cause I’ll always be passionate about and advocate for. However, I was feeling called to help closer to home, to make use of my hands and heart and serve those in my own backyard who are being negatively impacted by the turmoil happening around us.

I applied for the Presbyterian Young Adult Volunteers Program – a year for young adults to serve others while discerning their gifts, talents, and place in ministry. The program uses a mutual discernment process to place volunteers both in their city of service and volunteer site.

I’ve known for a while now that I’ve been placed in New Orleans(!!!), but I’ve just learned about the site at which I’ll be volunteering for the next year.

It’s the placement I had no idea I was looking for.

I’ll be serving at Okra Abbey – an urban abbey at the heart of a neighborhood in need.

Okra Abbey is a community center for spiritual recreation and re-creation – a sacred space where we grow in friendship and faith alongside one another as we share food -pray, play, and garden together – learning to use the food that we grow to provide care for our local community – especially those in need.”

Day-after-day I will be on my hands and knees tending to a garden whose fruits and vegetables are to be served to some of the most vulnerable members of our society. I’ll be working and developing relationships with human beings born of completely different backgrounds than me and with life experiences I cannot even begin to imagine. I’ll be learning about their hardships and struggles as well as their culture, talents, and things that cause them to double over with laughter. My days and new experiences will be intimately intertwined with those who I so desperately feel for and want to care for in this time of turmoil in our country.

Hopefully I’ll also develop more confidence in praying with others and knowing when and how to comfort others, two things I’ve never felt confident in.

I’m excited to serve the people of Nola, to learn from the people of Nola, and to experience the vibrancy of the culture in Nola. I can’t wait to share with you (though I am still nervous!). And, I’m curious to see how this year-long journey will direct the path of my life-long journey.

Thanks for reading! For now, I hope to write every few weeks. I hope you’ll continue to follow along!

XO, Cat

P.S. A little housekeeping… we’ll be volunteers, so we won’t be getting paid. But, we’ve still got to pay for food and other necessities! Click here to help me reach my fundraising goal of $4,000.




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