Julie Cozzetto was born and raised in Yakima, Washington before attending Saint Mary’s College of California where she graduated in 2013 with a degree in Philosophy and Classics. In school, she traveled to Israel, West Bank, Montana, and Alaska for various study and volunteer opportunities. Julie recently completed a year of service learning and growing with Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry in Baltimore, Maryland. Julie now works in the Legal Services Department at Bread for the City in Washington D.C.
Let’s talk about rocks.
Let’s talk about their strength and sturdiness – their ability to withstand pressure from objects stacked on top of them.
Their strength is a good thing, right? I mean, Jesus used Peter as the cornerstone upon which to build his church – stone, rock, basically the same thing. There might be a fissure here or there, but very rarely will a clean, deep break occur in a rock or bolder. Let’s be real, people of all sizes and shapes can stand on a rock, jump on a rock, drive vehicles into a rock, and the rock will do damage before it sustains damage.
Rocks are typically considered first for foundations or weapons. They withstand pressure from the outside world that most other objects would waffle in the face of. Things can be built on them, as they lay as a support for greater things.
There’s a beauty in this almost. Rocks are scarred by the outside world but they stand strong and silent in the face of this pain. Life is built upon them only for the beauty of life to be marveled at, allowing the strength of the rocks to go unnoticed. These rocks lie as the basis for other things only to be forgotten in the greatness of the greater things. In the necessity of their function, their existence is taken for granted. Their scars are lost in their sheer functionality.
For the longest time, I thought of these rocks and their scars and thought of their strength. I, too, was awestruck by the magnificent work that stones do for the world. Their strength, though usually forgotten, is admirable. So much expectation goes into the reality of a thing that is not even breathing.
Let’s talk about people and how our strength comes from sharing our weaknesses.
Let’s talk about the beauty of this vulnerability; the beauty of our brokenness and how it connects us all.
I don’t particularly want to be a rock. I thought I did – I mean, who doesn’t want to be known for their strength and endurance? Who doesn’t want to be thought of as foundational for things greater than themselves? But, I don’t want to stand strong yet dead. I don’t want my scars to mask the deeper pain that is going on inside. While rocks are unfeeling, humans are not, but we are expected to stand as rocks. I don’t want that to be my reality. I want my pain to be real and alive. I want to burn with my wounds open and exposed to the world and, eventually, to the healing elements of the world. Rocks are beautiful in their ability to lay as foundations, but humans were not meant to fulfill this role. Our scars and pains are meant to break us every once in a while. We are not meant to withstand the pressure of the world without cracking in half.
Strength does not lie in holding onto the pain and pressure and showing bits and pieces here and there to one or two people. This is not strength, this is fake. If I sit here and tell the world and myself that I don’t hurt – that I am 100% great, 100% of the time – then I’m just a big, fat liar. No one is happy all of the time and no one is meant to hide their pain behind miniscule scars that are masking deep wounds within.
Strength is in admitting that you hurt. It comes from staring fear in the face and moving past it. It does not mean you aren’t scared – hell, I’m terrified a good 73.4% of the time. I mean, come on, life is a scary thing; buses can hit me, people could hate me, I could forget my lunch. Life is not a cake walk – even though it should be, with 7 different flavors of cake – no, life is tough. It gets you down sometimes and smacks you around other times. But, there is strength sitting in this abuse and allowing it to wash over you. But, you have to remember to move beyond it. No wallowing. This doesn’t show strength either. It doesn’t come from hiding pain and it sure as hell doesn’t come from losing yourself to the pain.
Sometimes, sharing in this broken, human condition is what connects us to each other. As I acknowledge and live into the pain that comes with endings and the joy that comes with beginnings, I am able to understand a piece of what my clients experience in their hopes, needs, and fears. As I own my journey, I can open myself up to theirs. It’s interesting, really, when humans attempt to be rocks we forget the community that comes from understanding someone else’s pain through their own.
These past four months, my clients and I have shared frustrations about our broken system as well as stories and laughs about this city and our lives. We have lived into what it means to be people, all of us trying to make the best of what we have been given. As I allow myself to be just another broken person with them, I automatically remove barriers that stand in the way of our differences in class, race, education, and socioeconomic status. Yes, I sit in a unique position, one of power without truly deserving or necessarily needing it. Acknowledging my own road blocks and obstacles, I can walk this journey with them – each of us sharing our pain and joy.
Let’s talk about rocks and people and human brokenness.
Strength is not defined by rocks, rather it celebrates the realness that comes with being vulnerable in your pain. There is a beauty in this moment of full honesty and openness to what the world will bring next. I hope you sit in the pain and the uncertainty. I hope you let the challenges and the unknown wash over you. I hope the silence consumes you to teach you the goodness of the noise.
In Their Own Words
We invite you to get to know Loretto Volunteers and the program here. Volunteers introduce themselves and reflect on their experiences.