Good News: A VISION trip poem explores truth and compassion St. Thomas Newsroom October 12, 1999 This is a reprint of “Good News,” the weekly reflection written by Campus Ministry staff and students that is distributed at Sunday Masses at the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas.By Jesse Rosel, who participated in a VISION trip to Florida last spring. VISION (Volunteers In Service Internationally Or Nationally) will have an information session on January Term service trips at noon Tuesday, Oct. 12, in Room 304, Murray-Herrick Campus Center. Application day is Wednesday, Oct. 13.VISION TripLate March. You begin in a van at some parking lot in Minnesota, jam your one duffle bag full of old T-shirts and jeans, and you feel dignified at your own fabricated paucity. In truth, you are going to offer your charity in Florida because you had no money to drink in Mexico. In truth, you have never seen the face of poverty and are now wondering how firmly the children’s expressions will be imbedded in your mind.In truth I say “you,” but we both know that I mean me, and now we drive down Highway 31 on the outskirts of Birmingham. Robert Johnson’s voice inhabits the static grumble of the speakers. It is 4:27 a.m. In half a day we will be playing with kids who have no dads. They will worship our kneecaps because we play kickball with them during their morning gym time. We will hula-hoop for them in the afternoon and first graders will laugh at our bungling movements until plastic rattles on the dry playground pavement and it is time for them to go. They will grab us by the wrist and point the way home, but all we can say is not today, though what we really mean is not ever.Beyond your window, dew and fog still linger above the emerging grass, below the naked trees. The van heads deeper south toward the coastal plains. A bone-colored dawn is about to lift the heavy mask off of the night.You tell yourself the trip is about offering your charity, it’s about facing poverty with courage, it’s about compassion. But your real fear is that compassion is not temporary, that it cannot be forgotten, it cannot be washed out of your clothes when you return or slept off like the hangover you would have had. You fear that compassion cannot be discarded the way the day will discard the dew and fog outside your window, seared away by the sun. Your true fear, then, is that everything will be obvious, everything will be painfully clear.